123456 is the Most Common Hotmail Password
Gartner Research looked into the most common passwords and found that 14% of user passwords consist of:
asdfgh (middle left row of keyboard)
zxcvbn (bottom left row of keyboard)
and of course:
42% of all passwords are lower case and use only letter a to z
Only 6% use letters and numbers in their password
You need to use strong passwords to secure your data. Here are some guidelines
In order for a password to be effective it needs to be complex enough that no one can guess it even if they know you well. It should also be long enough (at least 8 characters) that brute force attempts (trying combinations of letters) would take a computer program a long time to crack)
Consider the following:
Use letters (caps and lowercase), numbers and symbols. The more cryptic your password is, the better it will protect you.
Leet replaces English letters with numbers and symbols. For example: a=@, E=3, i=1, S=5, etc. Check out Wikipedia for a complete Leet table.
Leet can help you turn proper nouns, which are very, very easy for machines to crack, into stronger passwords. For example: macintoshczar becomes m@c1nto5hcz@r. You can still easily remember it, but it is much harder to crack.
Make up a sentence and use the first letters of each word to create your password. For example: “Now is the time for all good persons to come to the aid of their party” would yield the password: “nittfagptcttaotp.” Then write it in Leet to make it even stronger, “n1ttf@gmtctt@0tp.” The sentence is a mnemonic device that will help you remember your password, and Leet makes it much stronger.
Lastly, keep in mind that the longer a password is, the better it is. Change your passwords on a regular basis. No birthdays, names, proper nouns, ages or anything else that looks or sounds like English or says anything about you. And, don’t reuse them.
As for security questions: never use your mother’s maiden name, the last four digits of your social security number or anything else someone can find out about you with Google or on your Facebook or LinkedIn profile. If you keep these very simple principles in mind, you will be much more hacker proof than you are right now. Use your username and passwords on your personal computers all the time. Security begins right at your desk.
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