What passwords should you avoid in 2020?

Splash Data's annual round up of the worst passwords highlights a lack of originality when it comes to password creation

Passwords have been used for centuries. Over the years, they have ranged in complexity - from simple passphrases restricting access to ‘upmarket' alehouses, to complicated, multi-level codes used to protect vital information and transmissions during the Second World War. Still, no matter the form they take, passwords have proved time and again their effectiveness at protecting valuable information and restricting access. Today, passwords are used daily by large numbers of the population, especially those with a digital presence.

Yet, much like the medieval drunkards who simply snuck into the alehouse through the backdoor, and the geniuses that spent months cracking the Enigma Code, there are those today who seek to circumvent passwords and reap the rewards. Given the damage these individuals can cause by compromising accounts, it is essential that healthy password practices are adhered to.

However, many of us are making it easy for cybercriminals by using simple, easy to guess passwords. Splash Data recently released their annual list of the 100 worst passwords being used by the population. Below is a list of the worst offenders from 2019, alongside some other standouts from the wider list and some best practices on maintaining a set of healthy, secure passwords.

Kicking off the list in 100th place is the famous wizard ‘Merlin'. Perhaps an affinity for British folklore runs strongly around the globe, or maybe people simply take comfort in the idea of a magician protecting them. Either way, we can only imagine the glee hackers have as they perform magic tricks of their own, ‘Abra Kadabra! Your bank balance is empty'.

In general, names are a poor choice when it comes to selecting a password. No fewer than 19 names make the list, from Ashley in 90th place to Michael in 29th. This number does not include passwords such as Mercedes and Harley, which happen to double-up as popular automobile brands, nor does it include popular pet names like Buster.

Moving further down the list, ‘letmein' takes 38th spot and it is hard not to see the irony of this password. What many obviously think of as a fairly clever joke is, in actuality, a relatively simple and obvious password that cybercriminals likely chuckle to themselves as they browse accounts for valuable information.

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