How to keep yourself safe from password hackers, once and for all

Stock image. Antoni Shkraba (Pexels)

In the famous folk tale “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” the way to get to the treasure in a cave is to utter the password “open sesame,” which causes the mouth of the cave to open.

If the tale applied to modern-day passwords, the cave would probably require a special symbol and a number in order to access the treasure.

Oh, and a few months later, you'd need to change the password.

Such is life in this day and age, but strict password requirements do make sense, considering the hacking and data breaches we've seen in recent years.

With Saturday marking Data Privacy Day, here’s a look at some of the most “hackable” passwords, and tips to make sure you come up with a secure one that won’t get cracked.

Most hackable passwords

According to an article on CNN, a survey was conducted by the National Cyber Security Centre in the United Kingdom to determine common passwords belonging to accounts worldwide that had been breached.

The survey found the most common passwords fell into these categories.

  • Names: Ashley and Michael
  • A certain NFL team: The Dallas Cowboys
  • A day of the week: Sunday
  • A month in the year: August
  • Musical artist: Blink 182
  • Fictional character: Superman

Here were the 10 most common passwords that were easiest to hack, according to the survey:

1. 123456 2. 123456789 3. qwerty 4. password 5. 111111 6. 12345678 7. abc123 8. 1234567 9. password1 10. 12345

Tips for secure passwords

So, what are the best ways to ensure a hacker isn't finding your figurative "treasure in a cave?"

Here are some tips to make sure you have secure passwords, according to

1. Longer is better

Oftentimes, coming up with a password that is 12 to 15 characters is best. Thieves have a much easier time hacking shorter passwords, so don't shy away from making yours long.

2. Make it unique

Make it a password that has to do with something personal about you — something random that only you will likely know.

3. Don't bunch up special characters

Adding special characters to the end or beginning of your password negates their usefulness. Instead, spread out those special characters in the middle of your password.

4. Use different passwords for different accounts

If hackers end up figuring out your password for one account, odds are, they'll try that one to get into others. As much of a pain as it can be to remember multiple passwords, it's the safest option when you're dealing with multiple accounts.

5. Another layer of protection helps

Passwords sometimes aren’t enough, so it’s never a bad idea to use two-layer authentication for extra security.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.