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Why are we giving the hackers so much help?

by Dave on February 15, 2011

hacked password listAccording to an article in the New York Times (, 32 million passwords were stolen from a company called RockYou. RockYou makes software used by social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. The hacker briefly posted the passwords on the web, and other hackers and researchers downloaded them. Sound familiar? This seems to be happening more and more frequently.

Of course, the huge list of passwords is a treasure trove for hackers, but it’s just as valuable for researchers.  Here’s what they found:

20 percent of people on this hacked password list chose a password from a very small pool of only 5,000 passwords. In other words 6,400,000 people all picked passwords from a list of only 5,000. That means that hackers, who do exactly the same type of research, now know they can use this short list of the most common passwords and off-the-shelf software to easily crack into many, many accounts.

‘123456′ was the most common password chosen. 1 percent of the people on the list, that is 320,000 people, chose ‘123456′ as a password. Why are we giving the hackers so much help? Take a look at the image above of the most common passwords.

Please read the article. ( It’s very good and explains a great deal.

To avoid being hacked, find a phrase that comes to mind easily. It should have at least 12 words in it. It’s even better if some of the words can be converted to numbers or special characters. Use it for your bank account – you’ll be hundreds of times safer than picking an easy password.

Here are a few examples to get you started:

Phrase (John F. Kennedy):
Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.
Password: Anwyccd4u,awycd4yc

Phrase (Forrest Gump):
Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.
Password: Lilaboc;ynkwygg

Phrase (Wayne Gretsky – hockey great):
100% of the shots you don’t take, don’t go in.
Password: 100%otsydt,dgi

Get the idea? Great! Go find a good password.

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Related posts:

  1. Choosing a Safe Password – Update
  2. How to Create Strong Passwords
  3. Millions of Gawker Passwords Hacked – When Will We Learn?

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