Life

These popular passwords are also the most likely to be hacked

Posted by
Megan Murray
Published

Are you guilty of using an easy-to-guess password for multiple online accounts? Check to see if one of yours is listed below. 

Uh-oh. If your stomach dropped at the sight of this article’s headline, then you’re most likely the sort of person who eschews a tricky – but hack-proof – password in favour of an ‘easy’ one. 

But with many of us now working from home, the need for a strong password is more important and urgent than ever. 

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), aka the government organisation which advises everyone from the public sector to some of the biggest corporations in the UK on how to be secure online, has released a study which reveals the most hacked passwords and the names most used as passwords. 

The most hacked passwords overall: 

1. 123456 

2. 123456789 

3. qwerty 

4. password 

5. 1111111

Cyber security: these are the most hacked passwords.
Cyber security: these are the most hacked passwords.

Of course, many of us tend to use the names of loved ones as passwords, too. And, while we may assume these are harder to guess than a string of consecutive numbers, you’d be mistaken – especially if our loved ones name makes the following list:

1. Ashley

2. Michael 

3. Daniel

4. Jessica

5. Charlie.

The above results aren’t exactly shocking. Inputting a line of consecutive numbers and letters straight from the keyboard is obviously an easy way to remember a password – as is using the name of a loved one.

The survey, which was carried out between November 2018 and January 2019, sampled over 2,500 participants in a bid to highlight how Britons are leaving themselves exposed online.

It seems the people of the UK are incredibly concerned about the possibility of getting hacked. A huge 42% of us are worried about our money being stolen online and presume that it will happen at some point by 2021, while only 15% of us feel confident in our cyber security knowledge.

Hardly any of us, though, are choosing smarter passwords in a bid to combat this. 

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By providing the public with the most used passwords the NCSC hopes to educate us on which ones not to choose, and the institution has offered some advice for those looking to change their passwords to something more secure.

Dr Ian Levy, NCSC Technical Director, said: “We understand that cyber security can feel daunting to a lot of people, but the NCSC has published lots of easily applicable advice to make you much less vulnerable.

“Password re-use is a major risk that can be avoided - nobody should protect sensitive data with something that can be guessed, like their first name, local football team or favourite band.”

Levy says that the first step to creating a safe password is using the method of selecting three completely random words that hold some meaning to you specifically, but aren’t your favourite football team or the name of someone in your family. It is also advised that you have different passwords for important accounts like your main email address account and online banking log ins.

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Images: Getty / Daria Nepriakhina - both UnSplash

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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