As far as we've come, passwords are sadly still the last line of defense for just about every one of our digital accounts and devices. That's unfortunate because they're typically not great at securing your sensitive data in today's world.
That's nothing new; password protection isn't perfect and hasn't been for a long time. So if biometric methods like fingerprint scanning and facial recognition aren't an option to protect your property and data, all you can do is try to create the strongest, most un-guessable password you can for each of your accounts.
The problem is, that takes effort and a lot of people tend to prefer speed and convenience. That's why simple and easy-to-guess passwords that have been around since the dawn of the internet are still extremely popular. Even so, you won't believe how many people are still using them.
The easiest password of them all
Think back to your earliest memories, when you learned some of life's most important skills -- like using numbers. Sure, you might never remember how to write the quadratic equation, but you'll never forget how to count from 1 to 10. Maybe that's why it's still the basis of a password that millions continue to use.
Across the pond in the U.K, their National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) recently conducted a study along with Have I Been Pwned's Troy Hunt. They wanted to know what passwords people are using to protect their sensitive data, so they took a look at various public databases of breached accounts. It wasn't good.
To top the list of simple passwords you should never use, but apparently still do, is "123456." Yeah, just through exposed credentials they found that this password was used for over 23 million accounts around the world. Just imagine how many other accounts it's being used for that haven't been breached ... yet.
The silver medal goes to the more advanced version of the same password, "123456789." But sorry to break it to you, those extra three characters aren't going to stump even the dumbest cyber crooks.
Rounding out the top five simple passwords people continue to use, at number three it's "qwerty." That's followed by the least original password ever, "password," and at number five it's "1111111." Ouch.
Creating strong passwords and pass phrases
I understand that sometimes your accounts get exposed regardless of whether you use a simple password or an extremely complex one. That's why it's not only important to have a strong password that's un-guessable, but to have a different one for each account. That way if one of your passwords is leaked, it doesn't mean all your accounts are at risk.
Sure, it sounds daunting to create a unique password for potentially dozens of accounts. Who can remember them all? You could let your browser of choice save your passwords of course, or you could use a more secure password manager. They're not impenetrable, but they do a pretty good job of generating crazy-long passwords while also keeping track of them.
If you want to get really fancy, consider using a security key. Google recently announced you can use your Android smartphone as a physical key to keep some of your accounts safe.
Whatever you do, don't write your passwords on a piece of paper and tape them to your monitor. Unless of course it's "123456." Your co-workers probably would have guessed that anyway.
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