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Are you giving hackers green light?
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Are you giving hackers green light?

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The holiday shopping season is underway, and one of the most frequently heard expressions is, “What do you get the person who has everything?” We have a suggestion. How about a new computer password?

A 2021 study by password manager NordPass concluded the world is populated by millions of computer users, and that a good many of them use weak passwords that can be hacked within seconds.

If your password is “qwerty,” “abc123,” “baseball” or “00000,” it can be leaked in one second, according to NordPass. About 3.6 million Americans use “123456,” making it the most common password in the United States. It’s also the top password in 43 countries.

According to NordPass, researchers have devised an index that sorts countries into three risk tiers: low, average and high. The index has been devised according to the number of passwords leaked per capita. It appears that nations with the most developed economies also are at the highest risk of leakage. Among nations most affected by data leaks are the United States, Canada, Russia, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Malaysia and The Philippines. Least affected nations include Mexico, China, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, South Africa, Colombia, Brazil, Turkey, India and Indonesia.

Researchers tell us that U.S. women tend to use loving words such as “iloveyou,” “princess,” and “sunshine” more often than men, who prefer sports and team-related passwords, including “yankees,” “redsox,” “lakers,” “steelers” and “cowboys.”

Globally, “Ferrari” and “Porsche” are the most popular car brands used in passwords.

Here are some password tips from NordPass: Use complex passwords: It should contain at least 12 characters and a varied combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

Never reuse passwords: A single password for multiple accounts is a hacker’s delight. If only one of the accounts is compromised, consider all your other accounts jeopardized.

Regularly update passwords: Security experts recommend changing passwords every 90 days to keep away bad actors.

Check password strength: Regularly assess your password health. Identify weak, reused, or old passwords and fortify your online security with new, complex ones.

Use a password manager: Securely storing your passwords is the simplest and most efficient way to boost your overall online security.

Among the 50 countries that NordPass analyzed, the U.S. ranks fifth globally for password leaks. View the full research at: nordpass.com/most-common-passwords-list.

If you found your password on the list, change it to a unique and strong one. Online password generators can help.

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