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Poor password selection makes cracking them even easier

A recent article in BBC News provided a detailed look at password usage and theft all around the world, and one of the biggest takeaways was that humans just aren’t quite up to scratch when it comes to password security.

Thanks to the advent of data mining software, several studies have confirmed that passwords are often easy to hack, and an overwhelming number of people use the same password for multiple accounts.

However, what’s been most telling about password usage is the recent high profile cyber attacks on large companies. A great example is the security breach at Adobe, which exposed millions of users’ passwords when they were published on a site that was known to be frequented by cyber criminals.

What was most disturbing about this breach was that the most common password among Adobe users was the extremely weak – “12345678” – and a staggering 500,000 people had made it their own. Others were were equally easy to guess, and this has led many to believe safe accounts will start with better passwords.

“You have to remember we are all human and we all make mistakes,” security researcher Per Thorsheim told the BBC.

He added that a good password doesn’t have to be difficult to create. For example, it could just be a word or phrase that has no affiliation to the user. One of the most common mistakes is when users choose words and phrases that have an intimate link to them – birthdays, wedding dates, children’s names and the like.

Adobe isn’t completely off the hook, though. Ars Technica called the way it stored and handled its users’ passwords an “epic blunder”. But with users choosing passwords like “qwerty”, “iloveyou” and “letmein”, it’s clear that better security starts with the individual..