Common password mistakes

 

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Common password mistakes

A gentleman in deep thought looking at his computer screen

What's coming up?

The first step towards creating a strong password is to avoid the common mistakes that may make it easy for other people to guess them.

In this activity, you will learn about the things you should avoid when creating a password.

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An example of a password being 'password' with a warning sign next to it as it is too easy to guess.

Avoid obvious passwords

To keep your password strong, avoid obvious or simple passwords, such as passwords that include your name. These are the types of passwords that are so common and obvious that they're always the first ones to be tried by anyone looking to steal passwords.

Another common mistake to avoid is using the word password as a password. A surprising number of people make this mistake, and it's one of the easiest passwords to guess.

Avoid common sequences

Another tip is don't use common sequences, such as ABCD or 1234. While they may be easy for you to remember, they are also very easy to guess.

A note with an example of a password being 123456
An example of a password being 'qwerty' with a red warning sign next to it as it is too easy to guess.

Avoid keyboard sequences

A common password that is also not recommended is QWERTY or qwerty. Q, W, E, R, T and Y are the first six letters on the top left of most keyboards and is a popular password that is very simple to guess. They should therefore not be used as your password.

An example of a password being 'dog' and a red warning sign next to it as it is too short.

Avoid short passwords

Short passwords should be avoided too. Try to create passwords that are more than eight characters long. Most websites will only accept a password of eight characters or more anyway, and some even suggest ways you can make your password stronger.

Don't use personal information

Avoid using passwords that include easy-to-remember personal information. If someone who wants to steal your password knows anything about you, they can easily try combinations of your information to attempt to guess it. For example:

  • You shouldn't use your date of birth or name in your password.
  • Don't use the names of family members or pets as a password.
  • Don't use the name of the street where you live as a password.
An example of a password being '08071952' for 8 July 1952. This has a red warning sign next to it as it's too easy for someone to guess your birthdate is your password.
A cropped image of an open dictionary

Avoid dictionary words

You shouldn't use words you might find in a dictionary, even if they're not personal.

People who want your password can use computer programs that try every word in the dictionary as a guess for your password, making it easy for these types of passwords to be stolen.

Some dictionary words that might be easy to guess include:

  • Friday
  • obvious
  • pizza.

Use one password per website

You should not use the same password for multiple websites or accounts.

It may be hard to remember many passwords for different sites, but don't be tempted to have just one password for them all. If someone guesses that one password, they may be able to access all your online accounts, not just one.

A graphic showing the same password being used on multiple websites, which is not recommended.
A woman is visibly enjoying using her tablet

Congratulations!

You've completed the Common password mistakes activity.

There seem to be a lot of rules about what not to do with passwords, but don't worry. There are many ways to create good passwords that are easy to remember, and we'll be looking closely at these in the next activity, Creating a good password.