There are many ways to fortify your online security, and the main way to do so is to have strong passwords for all websites or servers that might contain sensitive information about you. But despite the general knowledge that we should all have good passwords to protect us from hackers trying to steal our information, people continue to make weak passwords — and it turns out that even if we think our passwords are strong, they're probably not as good as we think. To show just how serious the bad password trend is, SplashData has compiled the worst passwords of 2015... so, hey, at least we know what not to use now, right?
What makes a password bad? At its core, a bad password is something weak and easy to guess, like the user's birthday, a pet's name, a former hometown, or a series of obvious letters followed by obvious numbers (abc123, for example). When people create easily guessable passwords, it's as if they're putting themselves at risk of identity theft on purpose. But we're all smarter than that, right? Maybe not, because the most popular passwords of both 2014 and 2015 were "123456," "password," and "123456789," which offer little to no security and can be easily breached even by non-hackers.
In addition to those three popular picks, this year's list of bad passwords include some new ones. Most people seem to assume that these passwords leave "password" in the dust... but just because they're different doesn't mean they're stronger. Here are nine passwords to avoid in 2016, because you bet people will be guessing them to hack your information.
Understandably, a lot of people have Star Wars on this mind this year, thanks to The Force Awakens. But using current pop culture references is a pretty solid way for someone to break into your information, especially if they find out that the account was created recently.
To those who think they're being clever by spelling "password," which was a popular 2014 and 2015 password, in a new way in 2016, I will gently advise you to go in and change it to stop the potential mess you're creating for yourself. Each year, variations of passwords from prior years debut in an attempt to strengthen an old password. But as SplashData puts it, the pattern of enhancing your old password by just adding a few things to it is as obvious as your old password itself. Don't do it.
Either you, like the people who use "starwars" as their password, are really into Star Wars, or you're just proudly living that single, independent life. Either way, though, you probably shouldn't reflect that in your password. Maybe try throwing in some numbers, additional letters, or special characters to spruce it up.
Look down at the keyboard on your computer. Now focus on the top row. What do you see? The letters spell out "qwertyuiop," and though that might be fun to type and silly to say, it's not super fun or silly when someone guesses it to steal your information.
Look, I love referring to myself as a princess as much as the next babe, but SplashData found that it's the fifth most commonly leaked password of this year. As such, you should probably avoid using it.
In addition to being a princess, I'm also super into doing meta things like making my username "username" and my password "password." But if you're like me, you're not doing yourself any favors towards internet protection and certainly aren't outsmarting the system by being meta.
Though this may seem random enough to be secure, it's actually not at all. Look down at your computer keyboard again: "1qaz" follows a diagonal line and "2wsx" follows a parallel, diagonal line right next to it. Avoid passwords that are easy to guess because of keyboard placement.
Please see number three. And number six. And please don't use this as a password. Thanks.
SplashData found that the most popular, leaked password of 2016 is "welcome," so unless you want to welcome identity theft and stolen information into your personal life, avoid it at all costs.
It's important to remember that even those with really strong passwords get hacked, and sometimes there's little that can be done about it. But many people get hacked every day just because someone guessed their password—avoid being one of those people and make 2016 your most secure year yet.