Computer users who think they're being clever by using "Password" as their - well - password, think again.
Turns out, it was the most stolen online password of 2011, according to SplashData, a provider of password management applications.
Those who switched the "o" to a zero to make it "passw0rd" didn't fare much better, the Home & Family Finance Resource Center recently reported. Both made the list of the 25 most common passwords used on the Internet.
Other common passwords include simple numerical choices like "123456," common names like "Michael" and patterns based on the layout of the keyboard like "qwerty."
"Really, you just have to get creative," says Kevin Cray, an application support specialist at Dupaco Community Credit Union. "The hardest part is creating something that will be easy for you to remember. As you use it over and over, you'll get the hang of it."
Cray offers these tips to make your account passwords more secure:
- Avoid using your birth date, street address or any part of your name. "I had a family member who used their last name and the numbers in their street address, and they got hacked that way," Cray says.
- Use a combination of symbols and upper- and lower-case letters.
- Don't make your password the same as your username.
- Avoid using sequences or repeated characters.
- Use a different password for all of your major online accounts. Otherwise, if one account gets hacked, all of them could be in jeopardy.
- Change your passwords every six months, if not sooner.
By Emily Kittle