The importance of a strong password

Password management company SplashData has released its annual list of the worst passwords of the 2014. The company analyzed 3.3 million stolen and least secure passwords of the past year for the list. According to the report “123456″ and “password” still top the list of the most unsecure passwords. Other commonly used passwords in the top 25 list are ‘qwerty’, ‘football’, and ‘access’.

In light of the recent security breaches at Sony and iCloud it is increasingly important to ensure that you choose a strong password. Microsoft have published guidelines on how to come up with a strong password and what it should contain:

What makes a password strong (or weak)?

A strong password:

  • Is at least eight characters long.
  • Does not contain your user name, real name, or company name.
  • Does not contain a complete word.
  • Is significantly different from previous passwords.
  • Contains characters from each of the following four categories; uppercase characters, lowercase characters, numbers, symbols.

A password might meet all the criteria above and still be a weak password. For example, Hello2U! meets all the criteria for a strong password listed above, but is still weak because it contains a complete word. H3ll0 2 U! is a stronger alternative because it replaces some of the letters in the complete word with numbers and also includes spaces.

Presenting SplashData’s “Worst Passwords of 2014”:

Rank Password Change from 2013
1 123456 No Change
2 password No Change
3 12345 Up 17
4 12345678 Down 1
5 qwerty Down 1
6 123456789 No Change
7 1234 Up 9
8 baseball New
9 dragon New
10 football New
11 1234567 Down 4
12 monkey Up 5
13 letmein Up 1
14 abc123 Down 9
15 111111 Down 8
16 mustang New
17 access New
18 shadow Unchanged
19 master New
20 michael New
21 superman New
22 696969 New
23 123123 Down 12
24 batman New
25 trustno1 Down 1