It’s that time of the year again folks when security experts release the most commonly-used passwords of the previous year and, needless to say, it makes for some pretty depressing reading (again).
Keeper, a commercial password manager and digital vault, have examined over 10 million passwords that were released to the public following cyber security breaches in 2016, and discovered that rather depressingly a whopping 17% of those passwords were ‘12345’. If you think that is bad just wait until you see the top 10 most used passwords of last year.
The Top Ten Most Used Passwords
Compared to last year the list hasn’t changed much at all despite all of the increased media attention on all things cyber security and the huge increase in government spending aimed at tackling the issue.
How to Improve Your Passwords
There are a few simple ways to improve the strength of your passwords.
Use a mixture of characters – Use a mixture of both upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. Make sure it is easy for you to remember!
Avoid dictionary terms – never set your password as just a word found in the dictionary these passwords can be breached within a matter of seconds by a brute force attack.
Use a password manager – with so many websites requiring you to have a password in order to log in, the temptation to use the same password for each one can be irresistible. By using a password manager you can generate strong passwords and help simply your password management.
Use the PGI password strength tester which can be found here.
‘Although many sites are increasingly demanding the use of two factor authentication and biometric features to improve security, most users still access websites via a username and password. The strength of this password and the use of non-dictionary words is therefore very important, not only to prevent attackers from simply guessing your password, but also to prevent brute-force or online dictionary attacks where passwords can be cracked by methodically trying all known words and passphrases. Having a complex password will never guarantee 100% security, but it will mitigate the chances of a malicious attacker from cracking your password.’
The Message Isn’t Getting Through
The worrying thing about these stats is that it is clear that people either remain completely oblivious to the fact that these passwords can be broken within less than a second by a hacker using basic tools (which means we in the cyber security industry have a LOT of work to do) or Email providers aren’t doing enough to stop spammers from setting up lots of dummy accounts.
Or; perhaps it is just down to the fact that people are lazy. According to the list it is pretty clear that people want simplicity rather than actually having to go the effort of remembering more complex passwords that can keep their data safe.
What do you think can be done to encourage people to improve their passwords? Let us know in the comments on social media.
PGI believes that cyber security doesn’t need to be overly complicated, incomprehensible or vastly expensive. We specialise in delivering cyber security services and protection, and offer a range of training courses to upskill your staff to tackle cyber threats in-house.
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