Common Password Mistakes | Password Security

7 Dec

Common Passwords & 6 Common Mistakes People Make

A secure password is the first line of defence against cybercrime, yet many of us still use passwords that the average 10-year-old could crack without blinking. If you’re still using classics like 123456 or admin, it’s time to change that password before you become the next victim of the data crime wave.

A recent survey has revealed South Africa’s top 20 favourite passwords, and most of them aren’t hard to guess – especially for cybercriminals. Let’s take a look at what internet users from Cape Town to the Limpopo are opting to use, and what you should probably use instead.

Do you use a globally preferred password?

A report by Online security company NordPass has revealed that SA’s 2023 most used passwords have a worrying global trend, and most of them will be familiar to anyone who has worked in an office, especially in the IT department. Here are some of the trusty strings of numbers and letters that people turn to when securing their valuable data.

  1. admin
  2. 123456
  3. 336699
  4. password
  5. weiter

While “admin” is the most common password used in South Africa and second most used globally, there were a couple of passwords in the lineup unique to SA. These included “Mandela1964”, “sexy1234” and ‘october@24’.

Taking a look at this year’s list, it’s clear that local netizens have a long way to go in improving their password game. Most of the country’s favourite passwords can be cracked in less than two seconds, making them close to worthless as a cybersecurity defence in real terms.

As a security conscious net user, you’ll definitely want to do better than “password” – and we’d love someone to explain what “weiter” even means!

Here are 6 of the most common password mistakes and the best practices that you can adopt to secure your data with a strong password.

Six password mistakes to avoid

  • Changing a single letter and thinking its enough. Single letter substitutions like “p@ssword” aren’t effective barriers against cybercrime – in fact they can be cracked in seconds.
  • Not using a password generator. A unique, randomly generated password is far more difficult to crack than a common one that’s used by millions of people.
  • Sharing your password. There’s almost no situation which should call for you to reveal your password to anyone – and if you do, they’ll need to take special steps to keep it secret.
  • Not changing your password regularly. You’ll want to update your password every few months – and if one of your devices has been stolen or compromised you should do it right away.
  • Keeping default passwords. Devices that are protected with the password “admin” are all too common, and the only people who approve of them are hackers.
  • Not having an integrated cybersecurity strategy. A strong password should be matched with a firewall and secure cloud storage to maximise your data a protection level.

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