Want a good reason to change your passwords? The more common your password is, the more likely a hacker will be able to get access to your accounts. And a number of passwords are not too tricky to figure out.
A recent study revealed some of the most commonly used passwords, compiled from more than five million passwords leaked during 2016 in North America and Europe. For the second year in a row, “123456” and “password” topped the list. If these or any of the others on this list even resemble your password, it’s time to change it to ensure password security.
Some other interesting facts gleaned from this list:
- Five of the top 10 passwords were numbers only
- In the top 10, three variations of “password” appear, including “passw0rd” and “password1”
- Ten per cent of people have a password listed in the top 25 worst passwords
“If you are complacent when it comes to your passwords and using the same ones for various sites and accounts, you are making hacker’s jobs easier. You’ve got to be proactive and try to stay ahead of them at every opportunity to protect yourself,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“The financial implications of identity theft can be devastating, so it is well worth your time to take this small step that offers such protection,” says Schwartz.
Here are some tips on password security and better password practices to keep your online information and accounts safe.
As a first step, never share your password with anyone. Change them up frequently (every three to six months) and make a point of having several passwords in use at a given time for different sites and accounts. When it comes to setting the password, make it long (at least 8 characters). Mix it up with capital letters, numbers and symbols. Avoid using obvious things (that would be easy to guess) like birthdays or other personal information.
Don’t forget about your user name too. You’ll want to mix up the username/password combination as well.
Avoid writing down your passwords on your desk or near your computer which will give would-be thieves immediate access. Develop a system that is safe to record them. If you do use a file stored on your computer, make sure that you name with a secret title that has nothing to do with passwords.
Lock it up
When you are not on your smartphone or actively at your computer terminal, make sure that it is locked. Even if you are at work and go to use the bathroom or grab a coffee quickly, it doesn’t take long for people to get into your information. Same goes for your smartphone.
Avoid free Wi Fi
If you are out at a cyber café or some other spot where there is free Wi Fi, don’t visit sites that involve you logging in with a password. It’s pretty easy for hackers to steal your info that way.
Be mindful of the mail
If you receive your bills through the mail, always pick up your mail as soon as it is dropped off, because there is sensitive personal information inside. If you are going away, have mail delivery stopped or have a friend or neighbour pick it up for you.
Be smart about your cyber security and protect yourself. If you’ve already fallen victim and are trying to get your finances in order, we can help. Pick up the phone and call us at or get started with our online debt analysis.