Think of Smarter Passwords

When a hacker stole 32 million passwords from RockYou, a company that makes software for social networkers, the list of those passwords was briefly made public online. That provided a rare look at people’s password habits, which, as it turns out, have hardly improved since the 1990s.

In an article on www.thenewsobserver.com, Ashlee Vance says that Imperva, a company that makes software for blocking hackers, has been following password patterns since the 1990s. Back then the most popular account password was “12345.” Today, it’s “123456.” Other too-common passwords today include “qwerty,” “abc123” and “princess.”

“More disturbing,” Amichai Shulman, Imperva’s chief technology officer, told the Times, “was that about 20 percent of people on the RockYou list picked from the same, relatively small pool of 5,000 passwords.”

He cautioned web users against assuming that password guessing is a time-consuming attack. Using fast computers and networks, hackers can guess at thousands per minute. “The reality is that you can be very effective by choosing a small number of common passwords,” Shulman said.

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