Matt Farrington-Smith
23/11/2011 18:24 | By Matt Farrington-Smith, editor, Tech & Gadgets

Worst passwords ever (and how to improve them)

The top 10 easy-to-crack passwords revealed.

A guide to the worst passwords ever. Image Microsoft.

A list of the 10 most commonly-used passwords has been published and you better hope yours is not included!

For the most part our passwords are wholly inadequete, especially when we contemplate all of the many ways hackers and evildoers are attempting to steal details and attack our livelihoods.

The research (carried out by was based on sample data taken from 32 million users.

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

How to create a strong password

AVOID your mother's maiden name, personal details such as home address or the date of your birthday (it would take a fraudster very little time to acquire such details) and deviations of the passwords listed above. INSTEAD use these steps to develop a strong memorable password:

Use the entire keyboard, not just the most common characters

Symbols typed by holding down the "Shift" key and typing a number are very common in passwords. Your password will be much stronger if you choose from all the symbols on the keyboard, including punctuation marks not on the upper row of the keyboard. DO NOT make the rookie mistake and use 'qwerty' or a similar string of keys,

Use words and phrases

Think of a sentence that you can remember and holds personal significance. Some people struggle to remember even the simplest of passwords, if this is you don't fret, why not try using a memory to trigger your password? This will be the basis of your strong password or pass phrase.

Remembering your passwords

Most people have a seperate password for every website/e-mail account they keep. Keeping multiple passwords adds another protective layer; if one is compromised you don't risk compromising the others.

Do you leave your front door unlocked at night? No, of course you don't. The same common sense dictates that it is never wise to let your computer manage your passwords. Hereby refrain from ticking that box that prompts to 'remember my password' - no matter how juicy and delicious it looks. Imagine if one day evil computers were to take over the world... we'd be screwed.

The easiest way to remember your passwords and pass phrases is to write them down. Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing wrong with writing passwords down, but they need to be adequately protected in order to remain secure and effective.

Ensure your password is of decent length

If you're a writer for a living this might be a hard habit to shake, but when constructing your perfect password ignore that dreaded word-count!

Anything under eight characters will be broken into in a second, so for suitable protection aim for a decent length, 10-16 characters should do it.

Test your new password

Feeling suitably enlightened it's now time to test your new password with Microsoft's Password Checker

Password Checker is a nifty tool that helps determine your password's strength as you type. So with this tool and these tips you too can have an iron-clad password.

Got a tip?

Leave your own recommendations for other MSN users in the comments section below.

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