Protect yourself online

“123456”. Look familiar? If you’re amongst the majority of people whose busy schedule, lack of imagination or apathy has led them to choose a password that resembles a sequence of numbers similar to the aforementioned, then you are a prime target for hackers.

With ATM pin codes, birthdays, taxes and keeping up with changing super and pension entitlements, we have a lot to remember these days. So when it comes to online passwords, many people believe ‘the easier to remember, the better.’

In a 2009 Consumer Password Worst Practices report, conducted by data security firm Impervia, 32million passwords (that were hacked and released onto the internet) were analysed with startling results.

The top 5000 most commonly used passwords represented 20% of the user database. If any hacker used the list of the top 5000 passwords to launch an attack on the Rockyou network (which was the website whose data was hacked and released), the hackers attempts would result in a strike rate of one in 111 attempts. This is an alarming figure considering the process is automated.

The report identifies the most commonly used passwords:

1. 123456

2. 12345

3. 123456789

4. Password

5. iloveyou

6. princess

7. rockyou

8. 1234567

9. 12345678

10. abc123

One of the key findings in the report was that many users held the same easy to hack password, such as 123456 or abc123, for all of their online accounts such as Facebook, email and bank accounts.

It is recommended you change all your passwords on a 6 monthly basis and be sure to include at least one capital letter and one numeric character in your passwords. For example: About2010Seniors.

Try and use a password containing words not found in the dictionary or easy to remember phrases. For example: Mary had a little lamb 2010 – this could be changed into MHAll2010

In the above example you can see that we have capitalised Mary had a. We then lower cased little lamb as little will refer to lower casing the words and obviously it is the year 2010, so this is useful to add in for the number perspective.

Find out more on Staying Secure Online.

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