They are the keys that keep our emails, personal information and financial details safe, yet guessing someone else’s password is probably easier than you think.
With more and more of our lives being spent online, the list of emails accounts, social networks, bank accounts and online shops we protect using passwords has also grown.
Recalling the plethora of login details we need on a daily basis is a challenge, leaving many people to pick passwords that are easy to remember.
For some it will be the names of their children, while others resort to dates of birth or the place they were born.
Yet passwords are consistently identified as the weakest link in modern online security, allowing hackers easy access to online accounts, computers and even entire networks.
Do you recognise them, now be honest!
5 pet name
6 place of birth
7 i love you
9 name of loved one
It seems almost too ridiculous to be true or perhaps it is just a symptom of poor imagination, but according to password management software provider SplashData, this was the most common password to be posted by hackers in 2012.
Mark Burnett, author of Perfect Passwords who has compiled a database of 10,000 most common passwords collected from password sharing websites, also found this was the most common, occurring more than 32,000 times.
Trustwave, an internet security company, found a variation of this, Password1, was the most commonly used password in corporate organisation.
It also came up at number 25 in SplashData’s list.
Easily remembered and easily typed, this is probably the most common password used on computer networks and email accounts.
Recent research showed that it was the most commonly used password in details of Hotmail accounts that have been leaked onto the internet.
It regularly tops the list of surveys and data gathered from password sharing websites.
Impervia, a software security specialist, analysed 32 million passwords that were leaked onto the internet in 2009. This was the most common, occurring 290,000 times.
There are assorted variations that are also commonly used and occur almost as frequently: 1234567, 12345678 and the imaginative 654321
A letter based variation on the 123456 password. These letters spell out the first six at the top left hand side of the keyboard.
Computer security specialists ZoneAlarm say this is probably the 20th most common password they have found being used while SplashData place it at number three.
A recent survey of 2,000 people by Google Apps revealed that the most common way people chose their password was using their pet’s name.
While this might make it harder for a stranger to guess, for friends and family wanting to take a peak at your emails or bank balance, it is an easy one to try.
Of course, if you are one of those people who plaster your pet all over Facebook, then it could give the hackers a strong clue of how to crack your login too.
Place of birth
Another in the top ten of password choices found in the survey by Google Apps. While it will be different for most people, it is an easy piece of information to find out.
Birth certificates are publicly available while most Facebook accounts make this little piece of information open to the whole world.
Both ZoneAlarm and SplashData place this password in their top twenty of most commonly used.
Quite who the users love is a mystery, but it is likely the hackers love them just as much.
Impervia found this to be the fourth most common password to be used in the data it analysed.
According to Mark Burnett’s research, this is the 12th most popular password on the internet. ZoneAlarm agrees although more recent data from SplashData has placed it as the sixth most popular.
Another animal based password, although this time a mythical one, ranks frequently in the most common lists: dragon.
Michael, Nicole, Jennifer, Daniel, Jessica, Ashley
For what ever reasons, internet users are choosing an awful lot of first names as their passwords.
Google found that often these are the names of a family member, a current partner, or a child.
These names seem to crop up most often, but internet security experts advise against using any first name as a password.
No one is going to guess this one are they? Just putting your name would be too easy, but putting a number 1 after it, that will fool those devilish hackers. Definitely.
Microsoft, however, advices that a password should not contain your username, real name or company name.