For the last five years, Splashdata has released a list of the most frequently used passwords. I stumbled upon this list a few years ago and quizzed my eldest child on her password. I guessed it in four tries. Yes, she had the #4 password on the list.
Every year, I quiz them on their passwords. Over the years, we have all gotten better about passwords. Well, at least our passwords are out of the top 25 worst passwords. While not the worst, they are not always the best.
Balancing Security with Efficiency
We struggle with juggling a high level of security with the ease of quickly accessing our accounts. Kids especially highly value efficiency. They are typically on their accounts for a minute but they check it 40 times a day.
They are not terribly concerned about a hacker breaking into their Tumblr account. With no credit card information and little personal information outside of their fondness for Kit Harrington and the Avengers, they do not see the point in a complicated, hard to remember password.
Splashdata found teens are one of the groups most likely to have vulnerable passwords. Given their numerous accounts and low-level information, teens tend to choose simple passwords and use the same one. Teens also have the added risk that they access accounts from more than two devices. Splashdata found password theft across multiple platforms is on the rise, with tablets and smart phones leading the rank of worst protected devices.
While teens may not worry about an international cyber hacker breaking in to their accounts, these accounts are targeted. The biggest risk is from a friend or classmate knowing or guessing a password. I have witnessed many “friends” wreak havoc on a friend’s account. Also, popular apps, such as Snapchat, have had data breaches. To keep accounts safe, teens should implement some basic security. The first step is choosing a unique and strong password.
Password Trends for 2015
When creating strong passwords, kids should be aware of password trends. Picking a password is like picking a baby name. You may think you picked the most unusual one only to have them start school and she is now Mikayla A. with Mikayla P. in the front row and Mikayla S. sitting behind her.
In 2015, the trendy passwords are sports passwords. The top three worst passwords are the classic 123456, PASSWORD and 12345678 – the John and Emily of passwords. Splashdata revealed that sports was the most common password theme– including sports names, team names, player names and mascots.
While playing the password game, share these simple password tips.
5 Password Tips for Kids
1. Avoid real words. Even words followed by numbers are not a great idea. If a kid cannot bear to give up SEAHAWK12 as their password, suggest SE@1hawk2. Breaking apart the word and throwing in a character will make it hard to guess but still easy to remember.
2. Create unique passwords. Many kids use the same username and password for all of their accounts. This makes it easy for friends and classmates to log in as them. Kids should keep their apps protected by using different passwords for every account.
3. Protect email accounts. Cracking an email account could allow someone to access all their accounts and lock them out. If your teen has multiple email accounts, most do, make sure the password is strong and no two are the same.
4. Change passwords. Kids often share passwords with their friends. Teens should periodically change their password. No one should have the same password from 6th grade to senior year.
5. Log out. When I hear about kids having their social network accounts messed with, it is usually not an elaborate hack.Often it is an account left open in the school library or a friend playing around with their phone. Most kids do not take the time to log out of their accounts but they should.
If you are ready to play the guess my password game. Here are the Top 25 Worst Passwords for 2015.