As more and more transactions move online, cyber liability is an issue of growing concern for businesses. The good news here is that most data and privacy breaches are preventable; simple things like creating strong passwords can go a long way toward protecting your company’s information. While we’ve all heard the criteria for strong passwords, those of us still using “password” as the access code to our accounts aren't contributing much to fighting the cybersecurity battle.
A software firm called SplashData analyzed millions of stolen password posted in online hacker forums over the last year. From this data, the company compiled a list of the 25 most-hacked passwords of 2011.
Many of the easiest to hack passwords were sequences of numbers or patterns based on the layout of the keyboard. Common names like “ashley” and “michael” also made the list. If your password happens to be among these, it’s time to change it!
The top 25 most-hacked passwords in 2011 were:
If data security is a concern for your business (hint: it should be), it might be time to remind your employees what constitutes a strong password. A "good" password is one that is easy to remember but difficult to guess. Some quick tips for creating a crack proof password are:
- Use 8 characters or more, and try to mix in letters, numbers and special characters.
- Steer clear of names of spouses, children, girlfriends/boyfriends or pets, and don't use phone numbers, Social Security numbers or birthdates.
- Try using a series of words to form a sentence – a longer password is harder to crack, and a sentence can be easier to remember than random strings of characters.
- Use the first letters of words and characters in a song lyric to form a password. (for example, “O beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain” would become “Ob,fss,fawog”)
Once you’ve come up with a solid password, safeguard it! Many people write themselves reminder notes and stick them under their keyboard or mousepad – or worse, right on their monitor.