Around half of computer users use the same (or very similar) password for all websites and far too many consumers are using weak, easy-to-guess passwords, according to research by data security firm Imperva.
The research revealed that about 30% of users chose online passwords of six characters or less. Almost 50% of users used names, slang words, dictionary words or ‘trivial’ passwords (for example, consecutive digits or adjacent keyboard keys).
The 10 most common weak online passwords, based on leaked password details from the rockyou.com website, were:
Which? principal researcher Martyn Saville commented: ‘This research is breathtaking. If you’re going to use a password like “123456” or “password”, you might as well tattoo it on your forehead. There are enough threats to our online security around without making it so easy for fraudsters to steal your identity and your cash.’
Protect your passwords with our online safety tips
- If possible, use a different password for each website you visit
- Use a combination of numbers and letters, upper and lower case and special characters (such as &%$£_)
- Avoid using any words that someone close to you could guess (such as family names, birthdays, nicknames)
- Security expert Bruce Schneier suggests: ‘Take a sentence and turn it into a password. Something like “This little piggy went to market” might become “tlpWENT2m”. That nine-character password won’t be in anyone’s dictionary.’
Which? advice to beat ID and banking fraud
For more information on creating a strong password, read the Which? guide Protect your ID online.
If you bank online, read about the banks that may be leaving their customers’ accounts vulnerable to fraud in our guide to Online banking security.
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