Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Millions in this digital world still use '123456' as their password

  • 123456, 123456789, qwerty, password and 111111 are the five most popular password choices according to data from wearesocial.com
  • Consumers often pick simple passwords for the multiple accounts they use daily, not realizing that choosing weak passwords can open the door to identity theft

When it comes to using passwords in this increasingly digital world, are people simply too lazy to use strong ones and consistently change them, or is it that generating a strong password is a very hard task?

There are about 4.4 billion internet users, and about 3.5 billion social media users with about 3.3 billion people using social media on mobile devices, according to data from wearesocial.com. Yet, of the billions of passwords floating online, the password '123456' has been found 23 million times in the breaches that Troy Hunt collected. The study was done in collaboration with the UK-based National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

You might think that choosing a more complex password such as 'oreocookie' is better. But even that has been seen over 3,000 times, the report notes.

Only 15% say they know a great deal about how to protect themselves online, which relates to current protective behaviours. The lack of awareness is particularly prominent amongst older people, according to a 21 April NCSC blog. NCSC has also released a file containing the top 100,000 passwords from the 'Have I Been Pwned' data set. If you see a password that you use in this list you should change it immediately, recommends NCSC.

Also Read: From ‘123456’ to ‘princess’, here is the list of worst passwords to have

But does releasing breached passwords help criminals? These passwords, explains NCSC, are already in the public domain. By building awareness of how attackers use passwords obtained from breaches, we can make it harder for those attackers, and help you to reduce the risk to your customers or employees.

According to the NCSC study, 70% believe they will likely be a victim of at least one specific type of cyber crime over the next two years, and most feel there would be a big personal impact. The UK Cyber Survey was carried out by Ipsos MORI. According to Troy Hunt, "Making good password choices is the single biggest control consumers have over their own personal security posture."

McAfee warns consumers that cybercriminals are continuing to access personal information through weak passwords, phishing emails, connected things, malicious apps and unsecure Wi-Fi networks. McAfee is committed to helping consumers take the necessary steps to protect what matters through the tips listed below.

Consumers often pick simple passwords for the multiple accounts they use daily, not realizing that choosing weak passwords can open the door to identity theft and identity, according to security firm McAfee researchers. They recommend that users use strong passwords that include uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

"Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Simplify your life by using a password manager to keep track of logins and create strong passwords that are difficult to hack," McAfee researchers recommend.

Top 10 most-frequently used passwords

■ 123456

■ 123456789

■ qwerty

■ password

■ 111111

■ 12345678

■ abc123

■ 1234567

■ password1

■ 12345

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