As the internet becomes a bigger part of our lives, security has become ever more important. In 2014, we saw the terrible things that can happen to people whose online accounts are not properly secured, from stolen nude photos to leaked corporate emails.
One of the most important things you can do to secure your online identity is to choose a good password. Unfortunately, as this list from the password management company SplashData makes clear, not everyone is doing that:
These are the 25 most popular passwords, as harvested from a list of 3.3 million passwords that were leaked during 2014. These 25 passwords account for more than 2 percent of all passwords in the data set.
What this means is that if you pick one of these passwords — or others like them — you're setting yourself up to have your account compromised. When selecting a password, don't choose sequences of digits ("123456"), common keyboard patterns ("asdfgh"), superhero names ("superman") or the names of your favorite sport or sports team ("football").
What should you do instead? The best passwords are completely random sequences of letters, numbers, and symbols — something like "a4b*CB34U!tz." Of course, normal people can't easily remember passwords like that especially if — as security experts recommend — you use different passwords on different sensitive sites.
So one good strategy is to use a password manager to keep track of your passwords. Or you can use my personal strategy: write down your passwords on a scrap of paper and store that in your purse or wallet. This way your passwords will be readily available to you, but totally inaccessible to hackers located somewhere else in the world.