Every security expert and security-focused website (including this one) urges you to change your passwords regularly, since that’s one of the top ways to prevent identity theft. But what happens if your choice is on the list of worst passwords for 2014 ?
Even though you’re being diligent about preventing identify theft, you could actually increase your risk if you choose a password combination that’s well-known among identity thieves. Employ strong passwords by avoiding terrible strategies like these:
Numbers in sequence: It’s incredibly tempting to set a password like “123456” because it’s so easy to remember. But according to the SplashData report, that exact sequence is first on the list of worst passwords. Any numerical sequence, in order, is ripe for identity thieves to guess.
Keyboard letters in sequence: Much like numbers, a password that’s set as part of a keyboard line, like “qwerty” or “uiop,” is simple to remember. However, the tactic has been used so often that those combinations are very familiar to identity thieves. Hackers also try seemingly clever keyboard combos, such as the diagonal “1qaz2wsx” of the first two vertical columns of keys.
Sports: Both “baseball” and “football” made the top worst passwords list, but even using the name of your favorite team can be dangerous. So while it’s okay to follow the Red Sox or Patriots, don’t let those team names let identity thieves into your system.
Names: You might love the name you’ve chosen for your child, but an identity thief can love it, too. In the SplashData report, common names like “Michael,” “Jennifer” and “Andrew” were among the top 50 worst passwords. Thieves can run a program that uses a baby name book to crack passwords, so be wary of using any names in a password, even with creative spellings.
Common words: If your password can be found in the dictionary (e.g. “monkey” or “dragon,” two of the top worst passwords), then it’s time to make a change. Even if you run words together, such as “iloveyou” or “letmein,” they can be easily guessed. And never, under any circumstances, use “password” as your password.
Creating strong passwords that are easy to remember isn’t difficult; it just takes some creativity. The peace of mind that comes with knowing that your information is secure is worth the extra effort.
While using a strong password is an important step in preventing identity theft, you need to take other steps, too. IdentityForce’s identity protection services can help keep your identity safe before any damage is done. And if any red flags do get raised, we’ll be right there with you to help you restore your identity.
Image courtesy of Flickr user jasleen_kaur.