It’s never been easier to set strong passwords for our online accounts.
There are many password manager apps. Internet browsers suggest and store strong, hard to hack passwords whenever we want to open a new account somewhere or change a password. Even if we still resolutely wish to create our own passwords, we get directions around what we should include and whether they are weak or strong.
Many platforms simply no longer allow us to create weak passwords. If there isn’t a “special character”, number, or combination of upper and lower case letters, you’re not creating an account. However, many others still do, which leads to many choosing weak passwords that leave them at greater risk of hacks and other types of fraud.
What are the most popular passwords?
Password manager platform NordPass recently released a report detailing the top 200 passwords in use worldwide in 2021. NordPass develops these reports in conjunction with cybersecurity specialists by analysing credentials found in data breaches.
For the second consecutive year, “123456” was the most popular and often used password globally and in the UK. In the data analysed, “123456” was found over 103 MILLION times. Imagine what the actual number is!
It isn’t just the most popular password in the UK, though. It’s also number one in the United States and another 41 of the 50 countries that NordPass analysed.
The subsequent most popular passwords globally were:
- 123456789 (5th most popular in the UK)
- 12345 (6th most popular in the UK)
- qwerty (7th most popular in the UK)
- password (2nd most popular in the UK)
Commenting on this year’s findings, NordPass CEO Jonas Karklys said in a statement: “Unfortunately, passwords keep getting weaker, and people still don’t maintain proper password hygiene. It’s important to understand that passwords are the gateway to our digital lives, and with us spending more and more time online, it’s becoming enormously important to take better care of our cybersecurity.”
Culturally driven passwords prove popular worldwide
In addition to looking at popular passwords on a global level, NordPass broke down its analysis across 50 different countries, as well as by gender.
The report reveals cultural trends across the world, with football being particularly dominant in the UK. Seven of the top 20 most used passwords in the UK are football related, including “liverpool”, “arsenal”, “chelsea”, “rangers”, and the term “football” itself.
Other popular culturally driven passwords included “guinness” in Ireland, while countries including Nigeria and Saudi Arabia saw significant usage of religious passwords.
While both men and women were equally guilty of creating weak passwords, there were trends in the weak passwords they created. For music-related passwords, for example, the NordPass report found that women were more likely to opt for “onedirection” or “justinbieber”.” In contrast, men preferred “metallica” or “slipknot”.
Another gender-driven trend was that women were more likely to use positive words, while men were more likely to use profanity.
If you’re using weak passwords, it’s time to change them!
Even if your password is a little stronger than “123456”, if it’s a common word, the chances are that hackers could access your accounts in a matter of minutes at the very most. Cybercriminals are also increasingly using password spraying – trying multiple passwords with the same email address – as a means of accessing online accounts. Even if just your email address is made public, you could find yourself compromised. It should go without saying that you need to ensure you aren’t using the same password across multiple platforms.
If you use Google Chrome as your web browser, you can run a password check from your settings that will identify potentially weak passwords. From here, you can visit the websites you need to directly and change your passwords. Google Chrome also offers a suggested password feature, so you can easily change them to something that will be far harder to crack. The browser will also notify you if your password has been found in a data breach, so you can take action to change it and secure your account. This is particularly useful if you have used the same password on multiple platforms, as it will direct you to all the websites where you’ve used the same combination to change them. Once you’ve spent an hour changing passwords that were all the same, you’ll never have even two that match in future!
You could also look at using password managers like NordPass or LastPass to securely store your passwords.
Finally, you should also activate and use two-factor authentication (2FA) where available on any website or online platform you use.