If you use one of these passwords you need to change it now

So many aspects of life involve the use of the internet these days – from grocery shopping and banking to booking holidays, reading the news and so much more – and most websites require you to create an account, which in turn involves creating a password.

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But, with potentially hundreds of passwords to remember (for your work and personal life), lots of us plump for easy to remember words and phrases, and then use these time and again across multiple accounts and websites.

We get it – you can’t risk forgetting your password for important accounts like your online banking (or your Instagram account!), but picking a password that’s too easily guessable leaves the door wide open for hackers to get hold of your information.

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The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre compiled a list of the top 10 most popular passwords – if you use any of these for you accounts, you should change them immediately.

  • 123456
  • 123456789
  • qwerty
  • password
  • 1111111
  • 12345678
  • abc123
  • 1234567
  • password1
  • 12345

As you can see, all of the above involve easily guessable sequences and are likely the first passwords hackers will try in order to gain access to your accounts.

Other mistakes people make when creating passwords include using personal information such as birth dates or the name of a pet – according to a survey by Uswitch, 30 per cent of us do this, despite the fact that personal identifying information is one of the first things cyber hackers will try.

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According to Avast, some extra tips on how to create a strong password are:

  • Make every password unique – if you don’t do this, when hackers gain access to one of your accounts, they then have access to everything
  • Make it long – anything under 12 characters is vulnerable to be hacked, thanks to new software that can crack any 8-character password in less than six hours
  • Use a mix of characters – the more you mix up letters (upper-case and lower-case), numbers, and symbols, the harder it is for the aforementioned software to crack it
  • Avoid common substitutions – you might feel clever replacing ‘O’ for ‘0’ in a password, but it’s no match for clever hacking software
  • Use more than one word – two or three unrelated words used together (e.g. DoorbellFishCheesecake) is much harder to crack than just one word
  • Use uncommon words – The above example uses fairly common words – for something even stronger, choose bizarre or uncommon words, such as proper nouns, local business names, historical figures or words in another language. Avast gives this example: QuagmireHancockMerciDeNada