Steer Clear of These 25 Weak Passwords

Steer Clear of These 25 Weak Passwords

Looks like identity thieves had a field day last year: The latest report from Javelin Strategy & Research reveals that there were 15.4 million identity fraud victims in 2016, up 16% over 2015. Between figures like that and other disturbing news about data hacking in recent months, you'd think we'd all be taking extra precautions to secure our information.

So why are millions of people still using easily guessable passwords like “123456” and, um, “password” to unlock their online data?

These two take the first and second spots respectively on a recently released list of the worst passwords of 2016. Assembled by password management company SplashData, the annual compilation is based on more than 5 million stolen logins that were posted for sale online last year.

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How weak are some of the others on the list? “12345,” “12345678” and “football” round out the top five. “Welcome” and “admin” are there too, along with cutesy terms like “loveme” and “hottie” and simple variations of the word password, such as “passw0rd” and “password1."

Star Wars fans, take note: “Princess” and “Solo” came in at numbers nine and 13.

The list reinforces that making minor modifications to a common password isn't enough. “Our hope is that by researching and putting out this list each year, people will realize how risky it is to use these common logins, and they will take steps to strengthen their passwords and use different passwords for different websites,” said Morgan Slain, CEO of SplashData, in a statement.

Besides using terms that mix letters, numbers, characters and upper and lower case, here a few more stealthy password-protection tips to help keep cyber thieves at bay.

Use “passphrases” over passwords. Instead of going with one word or term, consider using a password that is a song title, first line of a poem or a saying. Or come up with a phrase or motto that’s memorable to you because it's personal—for example, “IamSamsMom” or “IlovemypuppyLulu.”

Don’t use the same passwords over and over. We get it—with so many devices and apps to unlock, it’s less of a hassle to just recycle the same word or phrase. This might make your life easier—but it makes a cyber criminal’s life easier too. If a thief guesses your Facebook password, for instance, he’ll likely try the same login to access your bank account.

Get a password management app. Still keep a pen and paper list of all your passwords in a notebook near your desk? Come into the 21st century and go with one of the password management tools available these days. Not only do these systems help organize all your passwords, they can generate random new ones for you and often offer extra layers of encryption.

RELATED: It's Phishing Season: How to Protect Yourself on Black Friday and Beyond

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