Saturday, June 23 , 2018, 5:20 am | Fog/Mist 60º

 
 
 
Connected Life powered by Cox

The Five Worst and Five Best WiFi Passwords

Your personal WiFi network may seem like an unlikely target for hackers, particularly if you don’t live in a dense urban area. You may feel like you don’t even need a password. However, the risk of leaving your network poorly protected far exceeds the reward:

» Potential risk: A criminal could use a packet sniffer to monitor and record your nonsecure Internet activity or simply use your WiFi connection to conduct criminal activity in secret, all under your name — two very bad things that are easily avoided.

» Potential reward: You get to be lazy and never enter a WiFi password.

While easy Internet access is a huge perk, a safe and secure network is better. Let’s look at the five worst and five best passwords for your WiFi network.

Worst Passwords

» No. 5 — 12345678

This old classic remains the No. 1 password in the world. It’s easy to type, easy to remember and also very easy to guess. Variants like 87654321 and abcd1234 are no better. If you actually want random strangers to break into your WiFi, then a simple string of ordered numbers or letters is the way to go.

» No. 4 — zaq1zaq1

This one doesn’t seem all that bad; it even feels random enough to be unguessable. But this popular password that made SplashData’s list of worst passwords of 2016 is not random at all. A glance at the far lefthand side of any keyboard shows that “zaq1” is just the characters there running bottom to top. If a pattern is easy to spot, then a determined hacker will spot it.

» No. 3 — Any single dictionary word

Hackers often use automated software to submit hundreds of passwords a minute. This software quickly runs through the entire dictionary. Any single word is easy pickings.

» No. 2 — A password you already use

It’s generally never a good idea to use the same password across multiple accounts, and that’s especially true for your WiFi password since you’ll be sharing it with family and other visitors to your house. Do you really want your son’s friend Travis to know the password you use at for your bank account? We think not.

» No. 1 — Your home address

It’s not uncommon for businesses that provide free WiFi to use their address as the password since it’s easy to remember. However, your home is not a cafe, even if your family treats it like one, so it’s best to avoid using your home address as a password.

Best Passwords

» No. 5 — A random address

While your home address is a no go, an address no one would associate with you can make an excellent password. Throw in some special characters and you’re set: 2532KodakAveTN#

» No. 4 — A randomized assortment of characters and letters

It’s unlikely a hacker will put in the time and resources to break a password like “Y3%%xZ*&atT,>”. These sorts of passwords are easy to forget, though, which negates their value since a password you can never remember doesn’t do you much good. Even Bill Burr, the man who essentially wrote the book on creating randomized passwords, now regrets encouraging people to do so.

» No. 3 — A dictionary word modified with numbers and special characters

Using a single word works well if you modify it so it’s harder for hackers to crack. “Chocolate” is a terrible password. “!Ch0co1&Te!2” isn’t.

» No. 2 — A short phrase

“You Shall Not Pass!” is a line famously yelled by Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings as he sought to stop the Balrog from passing a bridge in the Mines of Moria. It is also a very appropriate choice of words to introduce the idea of using passphrases instead of passwords.

Phrases provide complexity while remaining memorable. Do you have a favorite line in a movie? Then separate the words with special characters and you have a fairly strong password: You%Shall%Not%Pass!

» No. 1 — A short phrase with numbers and special characters

Taking a short phrase and sprucing it up with lots of special characters will make it even harder to crack. Take “winter is coming”: simply placing it in parentheses, separating the words with exclamation points, replacing the vowels with numbers, and putting the second word in caps gives you a very strong, yet still memorable password: (w1nt5r!IS!c0m1ng)

Just don’t use this particular password example since it comes from today’s most popular show on television, and it is in a public article on the Internet.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >