Many of us prefer to use simple passwords so we don’t forget them, but – on World Password Day — we should take the time to pause and reflect on how safe we are keeping our information.
A lot of people are vulnerable to being hacked because they use easy-to-remember and common passwords.
Password manager Nordpass recently released its yearly roundup of the 200 most common passwords, which included “123456”, “password” and “liverpool”.
The list, collated using research from 2021, also detailed how many times a certain password was used and how long it would take to crack it (which was less than a second for the top 20).
Data showed Ferrari and Porsche were the most popular car brands and Liverpool was the most selected football team name.
“Onedirection” also came back as one of the most common passwords used after disappearing from the 2020 list.
The top 10 passwords in the UK
Password and Count (number of times password was used)
123456 - 571,107
password - 423,192
liverpool - 224,160
password1 - 162,086
123456789 - 152,801
12345 - 151,914
qwerty - 145,626
liverpool1 - 123,328
charlie - 109,524
arsenal - 107,899
chelsea - 101,018
abc123 - 92,288
12345678 - 78,331
football - 70,619
monkey - 70,010
arsenal1 - 64,737
1234567 - 63,255
chocolate - 62,754
rangers - 62,416
123123 - 59,978
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The list of passwords, which was compiled in partnership with independent researchers specialising in research of cybersecurity incidents, showed swear words were often used as passwords and men were more likely to utilise them rather than women.
Nordpass also found the most hacked password for chief executives were “123456”, which was involved in more than 1.1 million breaches globally.
The word “password” was also popular, discovered in more than 700,000 hacks.
Cybersecurity expert Grahame Williams said the public and businesses needed to “drop passwords altogether” and move to other technology to protect personal information from hackers.
Marking World Password Day, Grahame Williams, identity and access management director at defence firm Thales, said passwords were “becoming increasingly insecure” and “easily hacked”.
He called on the industry to move to other forms of log-in such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) – where users must provide an additional layer of identification to log in – or biometrics such as face or fingerprint scans.
Mr Williams said a key issue was the widespread use of simple and easy-to-guess passwords.
He said: “Research has come out in the last few days showing the number of CEOS who are still using ‘12356’ as their password is actually quite comical – the assumption is that we’ve moved away from that but actually the data really isn’t supporting that.
“We know that people are using these ridiculously easy passwords, but the most alarming fact is that they’re not actually just using them for one thing, they use that password over and over again.
“So if somebody gets access to one of your passwords they get access to your crown jewels.
Experts advise people who are creating a password to use a collection of three unique, random words and not to reuse them across multiple accounts.