Pass on 'password' for internet security, experts say
Published Saturday, January 5, 2013 10:21PM EST
Following a year in which an estimated onebillion hacking attempts were made, security experts hope that people resolve to upgrade their passwords in 2013.
Lists posted by hackers show that in 2012, the most commonly used password was “password.” In second place was “123456.”
Passwords “ABC123” and “letmein” were also among the top-ten most common passwords.
“On what planet do these people live? Who would use that as your password? But lots of people do,” Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian told CTV News.
Security experts say users should have at least a few passwords to use for different accounts. Users should also avoid words that they may have used online, such as a pet’s name or a street name. If hackers get into one account, they may scour it for passwords to other accounts.
Cavoukian has a unique way to make passwords more difficult. She says she chooses one word, and then combines it in two languages.
For example, if the word is “table,” she’ll combine it with the Spanish word for table, which is “mesa.”
Then, Cavoukian will use the phrase “tablemesa,” spelled phonetically, as a password.
The password can be made even more difficult by adding numbers to the phrase.
“That will be very difficult to penetrate…and it’ll be easy for you to remember, because you’ll remember the word you coded for in the multiple languages,” Cavoukian said.
The dangers of large-scale hacking came into the spotlight this past summer, when careersocial networkingsite LinkedIn and online dating service eHarmony both reported that some of their users’ passwords were stolen. At the time, millions of passwords appeared to have been leaked onto the internet.
The problem of weak passwords is compounded by people’s tendency to use the same password for multiple websites.
Nancy Bocksor told CTVthatis how hackers managed to get into all of her online accounts.
The hackers deleted much of the information in her accounts, including a book she was writing, and sent emails asking for money.
“They had sent out more than 10,000 e-mails --anyone I had ever interacted with since the day I had email --received a desperate plea for money,” Bocksor said.
With a report from CTV’s John Vennavally-Rao and files from The Associated Press