Are you using an easily-guessed password?

password box

Would you use the password 123456? It's hard to believe, but this actually tops the list of last year's most common passwords, being used by a staggering 17% of users. Other beauties in the top ten include 'qwerty', '11111' and 'password'.

More than half of people use one or more of the top 25.

As Keeper Security, which compiled the list, concludes: "a sizable minority are never going to take the time or effort to protect themselves."

Some people think they're being clever by picking, for example, '987654321' - but this is unlikely to do little to baffle any fraudsters.

"Dictionary-based password crackers know to look for sequential key variations," says Keeper. "At best, it sets them back only a few seconds."

The more random passwords on the list - 18atcskd2w, for example - are believed to have been use by bots, probably for posting spam on chat boards.

Whatever else you leave in your will - don't forget your passwords

If you're using any of these passwords yourself, it goes without saying that you should change it. But what should you change it to?

Best advice is to create a password with a mix of uppercase and lower case letters, along with numbers and typographical characters such as '&' or '+'.

Avoid ordinary English words: fraudsters typically try a range of common passwords first, then start working through the dictionary. And you should never use anything that could be guessed from Facebook or elsewhere, such as the name of a pet or a favourite sports team.

One clever trick is to generate a password from a sentence you're sure to remember: 'my rent at home is £500 a month', for example, becomes 'mr@hi£500am', for example.

Don't use the same password across multiple sites: if one site is cracked by hackers, they'll try the same password on other accounts.

Don't keep changing your password, advises GCHQ

But there's some disagreement as to whether you should change your passwords regularly - something that used to be generally advised. Last year, security service GCHQ said it can be dangerous, because our memories simply aren't up to the job.

"The new password is... more likely to be written down, which represents another vulnerability," it says.

"New passwords are also more likely to be forgotten, and this carries the productivity costs of users being locked out of their accounts, and service desks having to reset passwords."

Of course, you can always use a password manager, such as Keeper's own.

Why are we still telling people our passwords?

The top 25 most common passwords of 1016

1. 123456
2. 123456789
3. qwerty
4. 12345678
5. 111111
6. 1234567890
7. 1234567
8. password
9. 123123
10. 987654321
11. qwertyuiop
12. mynoob
13. 123321
14. 666666
15. 18atcskd2w
16. 7777777
17. 1q2w3e4r
18. 654321
19. 555555
20. 18atcskd2w
21. google
22. 1q2w3e4r5t
23. 123qwe
24. zxcvbnm
25. 1q2w3e

Victims of scams and fraud
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Victims of scams and fraud
Susan Tollefsen, Britain's oldest first time mother, was scammed out of £160,000 by a fraudster she met on an online dating site. A man claiming to be an Italian gold and diamond dealer told her he was in the middle of a land deal but couldn't access cash. Tollefsen felt sorry for him and started wiring him money, eventually selling her jewellery, her flat and borrowing £32,000 from friends to give him. Read the full story here.
In March 2015 an American woman who was only identified as 'Sarah' went on the popular US television programme the Dr Phil Show to reveal she had sent $1.4 million to a man that she had never met. Although she was certain she wasn't being scammed, her cousin made her go on the programme because she was convinced it was a scam. Find out more about the story here.
Maggie Surridge employed Lee Slocombe to lay a £350 deck in her garden in March 2015. However Slocombe used a combination of lies to scam Surridge out of thousands of pounds. He told Surridge that the front and back walls were dangerous and needed rebuilding and also conned her into building a porch, all for the cost of £8,500. Read the full story here.
It's not just individuals who can be the victims of scams, big corporations can also fall foul of these fraudulent practices. In 2015 Claire Dunleavy repeatedly used a 7p 'reduced' sticker to get significant amounts of money off her shopping at an Asda store in Burslem, ending up with her paying just £15.66 for a shop that should have cost £69.02. Read the full story here.
Sylvia Kneller, 76, was conned out of £200,000 over the space of 56 years thanks to scam mail. The pensioner became addicted to responding to the fraudsters, convinced that she would one day win a fortune. Ms Kneller would receive letters claiming she had won large sums of money but she needed to send processing fees to claim her prize. Learn about the full story here
Leslie Jubb, 103, became Britain's oldest scam victim in August last year when he was conned out of £60,000 after being sent an endless stream of catalogues promising prizes in return for purchasing overpriced goods. The extent of this con was discovered when Mr Jubb temporarily moved into a care home and his family discovered what he had lost. Find out more about this story here
Stephen Cox won more than £100,000 on the National Lottery in 2003 but has been left with nothing after falling victim to two conmen. The 63-year-old was pressured into handing over £60,000 to the men who told him his roof needed fixing. They walked him into banks and building societies persuading him to part with £80,000 of cash while doing no work in return. See the full story here
Last year the Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of a woman who had £250 stolen at a cash machine in Dagenham. The scam involved two men distracting the woman at the machine, pressing the button for £250 then taking the money and running away. Read about the full story here.
Rebecca Ferguson shot to fame as a runner up on the X-Factor in 2010 but fell victim to a scam artist last year when someone she had believed to be a friend conned her out of £43,000. Rachel Taylor befriended the singer in 2012 and claimed to be a qualified accountant, so Ferguson allowed her to look after her finances. Instead of doing this Taylor stole £43,000 from the Liverpudlian singer. Read more here
When Rebecca Lewis discovered her fiance had started a relationship with a woman he met online she packed her bags to leave. But that didn't stop her checking out the mystery woman, Rebecca quickly realised Paul Rusher's new love was actually part of a romance scam. She told Paul just before he sent the scammers £2,000 which was supposed to bring his new girlfriend to England. Find the full story here.
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