Every few months there is a breaking story about passwords being hacked, stolen or compromised. As recently as last June, it was reported that roughly 6.5 million hashed and encrypted passwords used to access the professional social networking site “LinkedIn” were compromised and posted on a Russian hacker site two days later. While those of us who are immersed in the world of IT and ESI are fully aware of the need to use strong and secure passwords to protect our data, it is not a common practice amongst the general population.
Just ask Andrew and Patricia Murray contestants on the short-lived Fox game show called “Million Dollar Money Drop” who lost over $580,000 in potential winnings when asked the following question: “According to the data security firm at Imperva, what is the most common computer password?”.
The answer choices provided were: A) password, B) 123456 or C) I love you
On the game show, contestants answer a series of multiple choice questions and wager some (or all) of their winnings based on their confidence in knowing the correct answer. Based on “their personal knowledge of surveys and articles” the Murray’s answered “password” and lost all of the $580,000 in accumulated winnings after the correct answer was revealed to be “123456”.
As the correct answer provided by the game show was solely based on the data collected by Imperva and there is no comprehensive data on all computer passwords it is hard to say for sure whether “password” or “123456” is the most commonly used computer password. A quick Google search on commonly used passwords yielded hundreds of sites which have both “password” and “123456” listed in their top ten results. So it seems there may be some validity to it.
While the Murray’s and the Google search could not definitively confirm the most commonly used password, they do serve as a gentle reminder to the general population that they should be using stronger and more secure passwords to protect their data.
For those of you stilling using “123456”, here are a few tips on how to create stronger and more secure passwords: