‘Password’ was India’s most popular password in 2022, ‘123456’ was next

Passwords are one of the most important elements to protect your digital identity online. However, people continue to keep ridiculously easy passwords even in this day-and-age in many countries, and India is no exception. These can be a simple combination of letters in the alphabetical order or numbers in order.

In a new report by NordPass, India’s top 200 most common passwords were revealed, along with the time to crack them. These include entries like ‘googledummy’ which stands at number 10 and needs 23 minutes to crack as well as 123456 which stands on number 2 and needs less than a second to crack.

“Compared to the data from 2021, 73% of the 200 most common passwords in 2022 remain the same. Furthermore, 83% of the passwords in this year’s list can be cracked in less than a second,” the report mentions.

As per a Statista report as of 2017, India is currently the fourth country on the list of nations facing consumer loss through cybercrime. As cybercrime awareness continues to grow in the years since, people not putting enough time and effort into setting strong passwords remains a key factor in digital identities being hacked.

The global scenario isn’t very different either. Passwords like ‘password’ and ‘123456’ continue to be the top two most used passwords globally as well, along with others like ‘guest’, ‘qwerty’, ‘iloveyou’ and ‘111111’, all of which can be cracked in under a second.

Why are weak passwords a problem?

While one could argue that the abundance of weaker, easy-to-guess passwords like ‘password’ or ‘123456’ would make them harder to guess, this is not true as attackers today no longer guess passwords but crack them using tools and powerful hardware.

Password cracking software can use both a list of words and numbers to automatically guess a password as well as algorithms to repeatedly punch in combinations until the tool arrives at the right one.

A report by Tom’s Hardware suggests that Nvidia’s latest GPU, the RTX 4090 is powerful enough to crack good, strong passwords in a matter of a few days, and under an hour if they have eight of them. What’s more worrisome is that these numbers are for stronger passwords, and going by the NordPass report, not many people are using those. In fact most of the top passwords are ones attackers can simply guess without using these complex tools.

How can you be safer?

The first step towards not being an easy target is being aware of all your online accounts. Forgotten accounts like email IDs from years ago could be easy backdoors into your digital security. The next rule is to keep strong passwords.

Strong passwords are not just about the number of characters. A strong password will need a combination of uppercase and lowercase, letters, numbers and symbols, but more importantly, these should be random, not based on some preset word, phrase or pattern.

‘pass@123’ is a password that contains letters, numbers and a symbol, yet it is the 34th most common password globally and the 6th most common password in India. The ‘p@ssw0rd’ entry is another example, standing 17th on the list of India’s most common passwords, as per the report.

Long, unique passwords that have no easy way to guess them are the most ideal passwords. The strongest passwords will be the one that you yourself must actually memorise, character by character. In addition to this, one must always make use of services like 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication) wherever possible.

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