Stolen Hotmail data reveals widespread use of weak passwords

1234567 was the most popular password in a list of 10,000 stolen Windows Live Hotmail usernames and passwords that was posted last week

1234567 may not be a very secure password, but it's popular on Hotmail. That's according to Bogdan Calin, a security researcher who got hold of 10,000 stolen Windows Live Hotmail usernames and passwords that were posted to the Web site PasteBin late last week.

Other Web mail providers such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and AOL have also been hit by the phishers, according to the BBC, which reported that it had seen a total of 20,000 accounts, half of which were the same ones that Calin analyzed.

[ Related: Gmail and Yahoo Mail passwords were exposed this week. | Learn how to secure your systems with Roger Grimes' Security Adviser blog and newsletter, both from InfoWorld. ]

After taking a look at the passwords, the security researcher found that two very weak passwords -- 123456 and 123456789 -- were the most common ones used by the victims. Of the 9,843 valid passwords he found, 82 of them used one of these two combinations. 12345678, 1234567 and 111111 also made the top 10 most common passwords.

Also popular were first names such as alejandra, alberto, and alejandro (based on the names, Calin believes that the passwords were stolen by a phishing kit targeting Latinos).

"A big majority of internet users still use very poor passwords," he wrote in a blog posting about his findings, a conclusion echoed by others who have examined similar data in the past.

Security experts say that the secure passwords should use a combination of letters numbers and other characters, and not include things like names, dates or dictionary words.

Calin found that just 6 percent of the Hotmail passwords contained a mix of letters, numbers and other characters. More than 60 percent were either lower case letters only, or numbers.

The longest password he found: lafaroleratropezoooooooooooooo.

The top 10 passwords were:

1. 123456

2. 123456789

3. alejandra

4. 111111

5. alberto

6. tequiero

7. alejandro

8. 12345678

9. 1234567

10. estrella

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