Can your bad passwords cost you money and cause trouble?

Deborah Salmi, Nov 30, 2016 3:02:31 PM

Have you used the same old passwords for years? Using the same passwords on multiple accounts? Time to get your passwords in order! Follow our tips.

From football stars to cheating spouses, using easy-to-crack passwords puts everything from your livelihood to your relationships at risk.

passwords should be long and strongChange your passwords regularly and don't share them with others

A tweet showing top NFL draft pick Laremy Tunsil taking a hit off a bong through a gas mask cost him upwards of $13 million. Tunsil’s Twitter account was allegedly hacked at the worst time – just minutes before the draft began – making his fall from the first round to thirteenth swift, decisive, and oh, so costly. Minutes after that, his Instagram account was hacked to show screenshots of a text conversation implicating Ole Miss in NCAA rule-breaking that will likely end up in an investigation.

This mind-boggling turn of events in what should have been a night of triumph for Tunsil and his university has a lesson for the rest of us.

Create strong passwords and change them often!

We know from stories like this one and from the analysis of the Ashley Madison breach, that people don’t manage their passwords well. Users fail to create strong passwords and they certainly don’t change their passwords once they’re set – even if their sensitive data, potentially embarrassing antics, or marriage is at stake. Even hackers don’t choose secure passwords!

Many people still don’t know how to create a strong password or they get so frustrated that they can’t be bothered with it. This is proven again by a list of the most commonly used passwords, complied by our Avast researchers. Here are the top 10 passwords researchers found last week from leaked data distributed publicly online.

  1. 123456
  2. 123456789
  3. password
  4. 101
  5. 12345678 
  6. 12345
  7. Password1
  8. qwerty
  9. 1234
  10. 111111

The list includes the simplest passwords, like 123456 (the all-time favorite), password, and qwerty. Lower in the list is another favorite, iloveyou (#19), along with trustno1 (#57), which is ironic being on a most popular passwords list.

"Now, you may think that leaked passwords alone aren’t critical – however, about 50% of leaked passwords included an email attached to the account,” said Avast researcher Michal Salat. “We know that people use the same email and password combination on different accounts. So if a hacker knows your Ashley Madison password, they will also know your password for Facebook, Amazon, eBay, etc."

How to create strong passwords

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May 5 is World Password Day, and there is not a better time to get your passwords under control. Follow these tips to keep your passwords strong and safe: 

  • Make long and strong passwords
  • Use unique passwords for every account
  • Don’t casually share your passwords
  • Change your passwords regularly
  • Let a password manager memorize your passwords
  • Lock you mobile with a PIN password
  • Stop using one word passwords
  • Enable multi-factor authentication

 Avast Passwords can manage your passwords (and your frustration) by creating and syncing your passwords across your PC and smartphone. You only have to remember one master password!

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