Password hacks as simple as 1-2-3-4-5-6

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Password. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Password. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Washington - Even after tens of millions of people had online accounts hacked, many internet users still rely on easily guessed passwords.

A report released by the online security firm SplashData on Tuesday found the most commonly used by global internet users were "123456" and "password" in 2015 - unchanged since 2011.

The fifth annual report by SplashData was compiled from more than two million leaked passwords during the year, and showed little change.

Despite the introduction of some new and longer passwords required by some websites, "the longer passwords are so simple as to make their extra length virtually worthless as a security measure", the company said in a blog post.

Among other top passwords were "12345678", "qwerty", "12345" and "123456789", according to the report.

Epidemic

READ: How to check your password strength

Other popular password are based on standard keyboard patterns like "1qaz2wsx" (first two columns of main keys) or "qwertyuiop" (top row of keys) but are "based on simple patterns that would be easily guessable by hackers", SplashData said.

"We have seen an effort by many people to be more secure by adding characters to passwords, but if these longer passwords are based on simple patterns they will put you in just as much risk of having your identity stolen by hackers," said SplashData chief executive Morgan Slain.

"As we see on the list, using common sports and pop culture terms is also a bad idea. We hope that with more publicity about how risky it is to use weak passwords, more people will take steps to strengthen their passwords and, most importantly, use different passwords for different websites."

The epidemic of hacking has led some online companies to start moving away from passwords, and employing other verification methods such as biometrics.

Fingerprint readers have become more popular on mobile devices and other firms use face or iris recognition.

Some sites are moving to "two factor" authentication which require users to receive a code on a mobile device.

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