If you want to keep your smartphone, tablet or computer secure there are 25 passwords you must not use, according to an online security firm.
SplashData publishes an annual list of the worst passwords – and for four years in a row the easiest to crack was ‘123456’.
And the runner up was ‘password’.
The experts say the easiest passwords to crack are those that use numbers or letters that are in rows on a keyboard. The direction they run is not relevant, but the fact they all sit together means a hacker or password cracking software is likely to go through those variations first.
In theory, with most keyboards having around 45 symbols after removing two or three that are excluded for system use, the potential password variations run in to hundreds of millions.
The worst passwords
“People use patterns on the keyboard because they are simple to remember,” said SplashData CEO Morgan Slain.
“Passwords made up of numbers should be avoided because they are simple to crack. Longer keyboard patterns web sites demand for security that involve a symbol and capitals are also usually easy to break because they use similar patterns on the keyboard as well.”
The 25 worst passwords last year were:
Other passwords to avoid are birthdays, phone numbers, family names, sports teams and musicians.
How to make a strong password
Having looked at the worst passwords, the next question is what is the strongest password?
According to online security guru Norton, the best passwords follow five rules:
· No personal information – including pet names
· No real words – cracking software includes a dictionary database in several languages
· Mix up the symbols – No rows, groups or repeats
· Make passwords longer – At least eight characters is best. The longer the password the less chance a hacker has of cracking the code
· Modify an easy to remember phrase – Take a line from a song or poem, such as ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles’ and change it like this: ‘1m4eBb’
“A strong password is just part of the game,” said a Norton spokesman. “Change them regularly, don’t use a common password for all accounts and don’t write them down.