Password protected? 1,000 most frequently used passwords

You wouldn’t leave your door unlocked when you’re not at home. Yet, you probably do the online equivalent every day, exposing your bank account, inbox, social network – even your very identity - to the prying eyes of hackers.

After all, in this digital age, protecting our privacy comes down to those simple strings of characters that cause no end of grief: passwords. So we routinely commit the deadly sins of password protection—picking passwords that are easy to guess, using the same ones for multiple purposes, and never bothering to change them—even though we know better.

I recently stumbled across Top 1000 Passwords—a simple visualization of the one thousand most popular passwords extracted from a few leaked databases—that drives this point home. The folks at Dazzlepod, a web development company, created the Wordle to remind us just how easy it is for a hacker to take a leaked database and extract from it pairs of e-mail addresses and passwords. It's constructed from data on more than 400,000 users.

(They detail how to crack passwords here.) 

The top 5 passwords?

  1. 123456 (appearing more than 5,000 times)
  2. password
  3. 123456789
  4. qwerty
  5. 12345678

111111, abc123, 123123 and, curiously, the words “dragon” and “sayang” rounded out the top 10.

I don’t want to spoil the fun of exploring the visualization yourself, but I couldn’t help noticing a few trends in the dataset:

  • People just aren’t very original, opting for techy terms such as internet (155 times), computer (250 times), online, windows and hotmail.
  • The users in the dataset skew male, and must be drawn toward superheroes and gaming: battlefield appears 276 times, along with starwars, spiderman, topgun, jamesbond, 007007, xbox360, playstation and warcraft. 
  • They're soccer fans: Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool were common choices. 
  • Their musical tastes run toward heavy metal and hiphop: Metallica, Eminem, 50cent and Linkinpark.

It's an amusing cultural study. But the visualization also reminds us that when it comes to guarding our privacy online, passwords are the first line of defense. Perhaps this one sums it up best: trustno1. 

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