If your employees think it's clever to use "password" as their password, it's time for them to make a change. Switching the "o" to a zero to make it "passw0rd"? Not much better, according to SplashData, a provider of password management applications. Both are on the list of the 25 most common passwords used on the Internet this year.

Hackers can easily break into many accounts just by repeatedly trying common passwords, says SplashData. 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.

Other common passwords include simple numerical choices like "123456," common names like "ashley" and "michael," and patterns based on the layout of the keyboard like "qwerty" and "qazwsx." There are also some minor mysteries on the list, like the unusual popularity of "monkey" and "shadow." With an increasing number of sites requiring more complex passwords, some letter and number combinations like "abc123" and "trustno1" are being used more often.

SplashData says it compiled the list from files containing millions of stolen passwords posted online by hackers. The full list:

  • password
  • 123456
  • 12345678
  • qwerty
  • abc123
  • monkey
  • 1234567
  • letmein
  • trustno1
  • dragon
  • baseball
  • 111111
  • iloveyou
  • master
  • sunshine
  • ashley
  • bailey
  • passw0rd
  • shadow
  • 123123
  • 654321
  • superman
  • qazwsx
  • michael
  • football

Even though thieves have more sophisticated hacking tools at their disposal today than ever before, they still tend to prefer easy targets, says SplashData. Just a little bit more sophistication in choosing passwords will go a long way toward making you safer online.

The company offers these tips for making passwords more secure:

  • Use passwords of eight characters or more with mixed types of characters. One way to create longer, more secure passwords that are easy to remember is to use short words with spaces or other characters separating them. For example, "eat cake at 8!" or "car_park_city?"
  • Avoid using the same username/password combination for multiple websites. Especially risky is using the same password for entertainment sites that you do for online email, social networking, and financial services. Use different passwords for each new website or service you sign up for.
  • Having trouble remembering all those different passwords? Try using a password manager application that organizes and protects passwords and can automatically log you into websites. There are numerous applications available, but choose one with a strong track record of reliability and security.

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