TECH NEWS: Confirmed: Your passwords still suck

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With large-scale security breaches more or less a permanent fixture of tech news, security practices among standard web users seem to be improving. But not very quickly, at least if NordPass’s yearly report on the most common passwords is to be believed. According to the data gathered, hundreds of millions of people still use passwords that can be cracked more or less instantly, with “123456” taking the number one spot yet again. It was found that over 100 million accounts used it for minimal security.

Other popular passwords include “qwerty” (22 million accounts), “111111” (13 million accounts), and the ever-creative “password” (just shy of 21 million accounts). Although less obvious passwords, such as “superman”, “baseball” and “q1w2e3r4t5” may not be used by a million accounts, Nord claims that they can still easily be cracked in a matter of seconds. Among the top 200 most common passwords listed, “myspace1,” “1g2w3e4r”, “gwerty123”, and “michelle” were the hardest to crack, taking a relative eternity of three hours.

The rest of this report offers some interesting insights. Russia is number one with a bullet in terms of password leaks, with almost 20 passwords illegally accessed per resident. The majority of western countries are not much better off. With 5.3, 3.6 and 2.8 leaks per person, the US, Canada and the UK remain at the top of this chart. Nord says that swear words are often used as passwords, though there aren’t any naughty entries in the top 200 — whether that’s because they don’t feature or they’ve been edited out wasn’t mentioned.

Using a complex, unique password for each website and service is the best way to protect your online accounts. A password manager is the best way to do this. If you’re looking to start using one or want to shop around, check out PCWorld’s roundup of the best password manager options.

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Michael, a former graphic designer, has been building and tweaking desktop computers since before he can remember. His interests include salsa verde, football, science fiction and folk music.

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