It seems not a day goes by that I don't get notified of a "breach" in one of my online accounts. They request that I change my password. I do, but NEVER by clicking on the link in the email (just in case it's a scam). I go directly to the website by typing in the url, logging in, THEN I change my password.
This article on the worst passwords is great. They're easy for hackers to figure out. Here's the list:
- password (The most popular password and most easily hacked.)
- qwerty (The top left letters on the keyboard)
- abc123 (The fifth most common password.)
- monkey (The experts can't figure why this is popular, but it is.)
- passw0rd (Changing the "o" to a zero doesn't help.)
- qazwsx (a top-to-bottom letter sequence on the keyboard)
Using passwords like these will significantly increase your risk of identity theft and other icky stuff.
How to make your passwords safer:
- Make them long (at least 12 keystrokes)
- mix `em up with upper- and lowercase letters, spaces, underscores, symbols and conscious misspellings
- Also, use different passwords for your different online accounts
- CHANGE THEM every 90 days or so. I have so many that I can't possibly remember them all, so I keep them in a password-protected file. Of course, I made that password especially difficult.
- Or, use a service like 1Password. I'm seriously considering it, they say they have never had their security compromised in any way. (I will research this and write you a post about it soon.)
Microsoft has a web page dedicated to helping you create strong passwords. Go here to check it out.