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Top Story

What are the worst passwords - and how to make a good one

Forget about "open sesame"! The key to getting into many computers is simply typing "password" or maybe it is as simple as "123456".

Splashdata recently revealed that these are the two most common passwords used in 2011. The company specializes in password management applications. Rounding out the top five of the most used - and thus worst - passwords of the year were "12345678", "qwerty" and "abc123".

The top 25, which appears in its entirety below, includes some interesting password choices. For example, the straight ahead "letmein" ranked eighth, while No. 14 on the list - "master" - lets the computer know who's in charge. Baseball is not only America's favourite pastime, but also its No. 11 pick for a password. In spite of all his powers, "superman" was relegated to No. 22.

Picking a good password

So, with so many people using these common passwords, what makes for a strong password? Here are some tips:

  • Get creative! Make up a phrase and then use the first letters of each word. Try to work in a number and a symbol.
  • Take a word and substitute symbols, such as a slash, and numbers for various letters.
  • Avoid using your name or email address or parts of these as they are easy to crack.
  • Don't use personal info like your birth date, address or family member names.
  • Consecutive numbers are bad!
  • Stay away from common phrases and slang terms.
  • Try to have a password that is at least eight characters long.
  • Stay away from patterns on the keyboard, such as "qwerty" or No. 23 on Splashdata's list, "qazwsx", which is the first three rows typed vertically.
  • Words spelled backwards or using 0s for Os are not very secure as cracking programs can figure these out easily.
  • Don't just add a number behind your password!
  • Try to avoid words found in dictionaries, even in foreign language dictionaries.

Passwords are an important way to defend against stolen information, such as your work or credit card information. It is not easy, but to protect yourself it is suggested that you have a different password for each of your online accounts. It is also a good idea to change these passwords a couple of times a year.

Splashdata's 25 Worst Passwords of 2011:

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. abc123
  6. monkey
  7. 1234567
  8. letmein
  9. trustno1
  10. dragon
  11. baseball
  12. 111111
  13. iloveyou
  14. master
  15. sunshine
  16. ashley
  17. bailey
  18. passw0rd
  19. shadow
  20. 123123
  21. 654321
  22. superman
  23. qazwsx
  24. michael
  25. football

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