Here is the list you need to read – the top 25 worst internet passwords for 2011. That’s the 25 most frequently used passwords which are most commonly successful in gaining entry into other people’s internet accounts.
If you would like to prevent identity theft and credit file misuse, scan this list, and if your password is on it, please invent a stronger one.
‘Splashdata’, a Californian company which sells security services and password software has created these rankings based on millions of stolen passwords posted online by hackers.
The Brisbane Times reported today SplashData CEO Morgan Slain urges businesses and consumers using any password on the list to change them immediately.
“Hackers can easily break into many accounts just by repeatedly trying common passwords,” Slain says. “Even though people are encouraged to select secure, strong passwords, many people continue to choose weak, easy-to-guess ones, placing themselves at risk from fraud and identity theft,” he says.
There are a number of ways hacking internet passwords can be lucrative for identity thieves beyond simply gaining access to bank accounts:
1. Scammers who hack in to your Facebook or Twitter accounts can send messages to your friends pretending to be you, and ask for money from them. Recently a Gold Coast woman had her Facebook and Hotmail accounts hacked, and her friends were continually asked for money in her name. She is still attempting to recover her accounts.
2. Fraudsters can also be after personal information from your online accounts, with the view to setting up fake identities. The personal information posted in Facebook could be enough to request replacement copies of identification, and then take out credit in your name, which can easily lead to a damaged credit rating, often without your knowledge.
3. Passwords for one account may be the same passwords used for other accounts and services. What would happen if the fraudster could gain access to your ebay account or your gmail?
4. Gaining access to a person’s personal hotmal or gmail account could certainly give the hackers enough information over time to commit identity fraud or at the very least a chance to send fake emails to contacts in your address book.
5. Weak staff passwords can put businesses at risk of fraud and also credit file misuse.
The Government’s Stay Smart Online website says attacks using stolen passwords occur more than people realise.
“A password on your computer is like a lock on your front door—it prevents strangers walking into your house and stealing your possessions,” the website says.
Stay Smart Online’s Top tips for passwords:
• Set strong passwords, particularly for important online accounts and change them regularly—consider making a diary entry to remind yourself.
• Never share your password with anyone. A password is meant to be a secret known only to you.
• Memorise your password if you can. To make a password easy to remember, think of a phrase and then change some of the characters to make it a strong password. If you need to write it down in order to remember it, hide it somewhere safe.
• Use different passwords for different accounts—otherwise if one is compromised it may give an attacker access to your other online accounts. For example, use a password for online banking that is different to the ones you would use for email or social networking.
• Don’t save passwords for important accounts in your web browser—otherwise anyone using your computer could access these accounts.
• Be careful using your password on a public internet terminal (such as an airport or internet cafe).
• Never send your password via email or store your passwords in plain text on your computer.
If you suspect your password has been stolen, you may be extremely vulnerable to identity theft. You should contact Police immediately, even if nothing appears to have been tampered with yet. You should also get a copy of your credit file and check for any suspicious new enquiries or changes in contact details. If there seems to be any discrepancies notify creditors straight away to prevent fraudsters ruining your credit rating. If there are defaults or other negative listings on your account that you didn’t initiate, you would find it helpful to use a credit repairer to help recover your good name. Contact MyCRA Credit Repairs tollfree on 1300 667 218 or visit our main website www.mycra.com.au.