'Password' is still the worst password, but watch out for 'ninja'

Security software developer Splashdata released its annual list of the most common passwords on the Internet

Although the tech world is always changing, one thing remains the same: A lot of people use terrible passwords.

Splashdata, a security software developer, released its annual list of the most common passwords on the Internet. Once again, “password,” “123456,” and “12345678” are the three most popular, in that order.

[ InfoWorld Test Center reviews 7 password managers. Find out which one comes out on top. | Learn how to secure your systems with Roger Grimes' Security Adviser blog and Security Central newsletter, both from InfoWorld. ]

The list of most common passwords is based on file dumps from online hackers. Splashdata notes that 2012 saw several high-profile security breaches, including Yahoo, LinkedIn, eHarmony, and Last.fm. The company says it releases its annual list to raise awareness of bad passwords—and, just as likely, to promote its SplashID password management software.

Slap my face!

In addition to the usual face-palm provokers such as "abc123'"and "qwerty," the list includes some returning oddballs: “monkey,” “baseball” and “shadow.” A few of the new entries are more unexpected: “jesus,” “ninja,” and “mustang” all made the top 25.

On a more encouraging note, “password1” cracked the top 25 this year, so perhaps people are learning that a combination of letters and numbers makes for a stronger password. (Now they just need to work on not picking the most obvious of each.)

Here's the full list and how it compares to last year's:

  1. password (Unchanged)
  2. 123456 (Unchanged)
  3. 12345678 (Unchanged)
  4. abc123 (Up 1)
  5. qwerty (Down 1)
  6. monkey (Unchanged)
  7. letmein (Up 1)
  8. dragon (Up 2)
  9. 111111 (Up 3)
  10. baseball (Up 1)
  11. iloveyou (Up 2)
  12. trustno1 (Down 3)
  13. 1234567 (Down 6)
  14. sunshine (Up 1)
  15. master (Down 1)
  16. 123123 (Up 4)
  17. welcome (New)
  18. shadow (Up 1)
  19. ashley (Down 3)
  20. football (Up 5)
  21. jesus (New)
  22. michael (Up 2)
  23. ninja (New)
  24. mustang (New)
  25. password1 (New)

Solutions

We're probably preaching to the choir but, as I wrote last year, a strong password contains letters, numbers, and symbols—you can use short phrases separated by underscores if you're worried about remembering a long sequence.

Also, try not to use the same password over and over, especially for sensitive accounts such as banking and e-mail.

If all that sounds like too much, there are always third-party tools to help, such as LastPass1PasswordRoboform, eWallet, SplashID, or KeePass.

You can also set up two-step authentication with Google or Facebook. Some websites allow you to sign through Google or Facebook, using them as a sort of master key, so two-step authentication will add an extra layer of security.

But most importantly, don't use the kind of password an idiot would have on his luggage (thank you, Mel Brooks!).

This story, "'Password' is still the worst password, but watch out for 'ninja'" was originally published by PCWorld.

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