TODAY is World Password Day and cybersecurity experts are encouraging everyone to take a better look at their passwords as pandemic-inspired words have become easily hacked.
For many years, the most popular password has been ‘123456’, but new research by advanced security and privacy app maker NordPass shows competition from current affairs.
For example, ‘corona’, ‘lockdown’ and other words or phrases that have defined our lives in the past year, are proving too popular.
“The main issue with such passwords is that they are very easy to crack,” warned Chad Hammond, a security expert at NordPass.
“People often don’t look far enough when creating their passwords. We have noticed that current events inspire password trends.
“It’s important to remember that such passwords are highly unsecure and can be easily guessed by a malicious actor. In fact, a hacker can crack any dictionary word, as well as any name, almost instantly.”
According to the research, the password corona has been used 101,777 times, and the various combinations of it, like corona1 or corona01, have been used 370,202 times.
Lockdown was another popular keyword used for passwords. Its variations such as lockdown1 have been used to attempt to protect people’s accounts 62,859 times.
Many passwords are also inspired by recent political events, such as the US presidential election.
For example, researchers found that passwords such as ‘donaldtrump’ were used more than a thousand times.
Passwords related to ‘Meghan’ (895,891) and ‘Harry’ (1,186,829) – estranged members of the British Royal Family who recently moved to the US – were also on the rise.
The list of passwords was compiled in partnership with a third-party company specialising in data breach research.
Each year on the first Thursday in May, World Password Day promotes better password habits. Passwords are critical gatekeepers to digital identities, allowing people to access online shopping, dating, banking, social media, private work and life communications.
This World Password Day, the security expert advises everyone to properly secure accounts by updating passwords and using unique, complicated ones.
People can also employ a password generator, set up a password manager and use features such as a Data Breach Scanner, which helps find out whether any accounts have been compromised.
And, use ‘2FA’, meaning two-factor authentication, if possible. It is a method of establishing access to an online account or computer system that requires the user to provide two different types of information.
Whether it’s an app, biometric data, or hardware security key, accounts will be much safer when you add that extra layer of protection, experts suggest.