keyboardSimon Chavez/dpa/ef

An annual list of the world's most common passwords has revealed that we are still falling into dangerous traps when we set our password. The top five are the five most easily guessed, and number one is truly shocking: the most common is the word 'password'.

So why are we taking such risks, and how can we set better passwords?

Most common

Researchers for SplashData looked through millions of passwords stolen by hackers over the past year. They found that 'password' is still the most common option - because we want something that we can remember, and this is the first thing that springs to mind. For the same reason, the rest of the top five are made up of simple sequences: 123456, 12345678, abc123 and qwerty.

The trouble is that if a password is the first to spring to mind for you, it'll be the first to spring to mind for thousands of other people too - so that when someone is trying to get into your accounts, all they have to do is try a few of the usual suspects and they are in. The experts warn that anyone opting for one of the top five is very likely to fall victim to hacking in future.


Ross McKerchar, a cybersecurity specialist from Sophos warns: "The human element is often referred to as the weakest link in a secure system. Time and time again studies have demonstrated that we are not good at choosing passwords, nor can we keep them secret."

Trends

Beyond the top five, a few trends start to crop up. The first is popular characters, these include things like monkey at 6, dragon at 8, and ninja at 23.The second trend is hobbies, so baseball is at number 10 and football at 20. The third is very popular phrases such as letmein at 7, iloveyou at 11 and trustno1 at 12.

The company says that if you see your password anywhere on this list, you must act quickly to change it and protect yourself. Morgan Slain, SplashData CEO said: "Even though each year hacking tools get more sophisticated, thieves still tend to prefer easy targets." He added. "Just a little bit more effort in choosing better passwords will go a long way toward making you safer online."

"We're hoping that with more publicity about how risky it is to use weak passwords, more people will start taking simple steps to protect themselves by using stronger passwords and using different passwords for different websites."

Better passwords

The company has offered a number of tips for stronger passwords. It says you should ideally have eight or more characters - of mixed types. One of the simplest ways to do this is to opt for a phrase you can remember, with a number or other character in between each word.

It also says you need to come up with different passwords for each site, and at the very least avoid using the same one for email, social networking, and financial services.

If you struggle to remember them all, you can use a password manager application that organises and protects passwords and can automatically log you into websites. There are numerous applications available to help you do this.

The most popular/worst passwords

1. password
2, 123456
3. 12345678
4. abc123
5. qwerty
6. monkey
7. letmein
8. dragon
9. 111111
10. baseball
11. iloveyou
12. trustno1
13. 1234567
14. sunshine
15. master
16. 123123
17. welcome
18. shadow
19. ashley
20. football
21. jesus
22. michael
23. ninja
24. mustang
25. password1



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