'123456' is not a good password: These are 2021's most popular passwords

29 December 2021 - 18:41
By Alex Patrick
If '123456' is your password - it's time to change it. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Oleksandr Serebriakov If '123456' is your password - it's time to change it. Stock photo.

The year's most popular password used in 50 countries — including SA — is “123456".

This is according to a 2021 report by desktop password manager NordPass. 

It found that “123456" was the top password in 43 countries out of 50. Moreover the report said women were more likely to use love-words as passwords, such as “iloveyou”, and men prefer to use sport-related passwords like “ronaldo”.

The top 20 most common passwords in 50 countries are:

  1. 123456
  2. 123456789
  3. 12345
  4. qwerty
  5. password
  6. 12345678
  7. 111111
  8. 123123
  9. 1234567890
  10. 1234567
  11. qwerty123
  12. 000000
  13. 1q2w3e
  14. aa12345678
  15. abc123
  16. password1
  17. 1234
  18. qwertyuiop
  19. 123321
  20. password1

According to the research, easy number combinations such as “123456” are popular everywhere in the world, even in the remaining seven countries not using “123456”. They were: India with “password”, Indonesia — “12345”, Japan — “password”, Portugal — “12345”, Spain — “12345”, Thailand — “12345”, Ukraine — “qwerty”.

"'Qwerty' and the variations of it or the localised versions of 'qwerty' (that is, “azerty” in French-speaking countries) are also popular in all the analysed countries,” NordPass reported.

Globally, people use loving words such as “iloveyou” and the linguistic alternatives like  “ichliebedich” in German and “tequiero” in Spanish.

Password “iloveyou” is the 24th most used in SA.

“Sunshine” or “soleil”, meaning “sun” in French, were also popular as well “princess” or “corazon”, which means “heart” in Spanish. These words are also used as terms of endearment. 

Password “sunshine is the 37th most popular in SA.

“This research also shows that people tend to use their own names as their passwords,” according to NordPass.

The most popular name password in SA is “chregan” at number 10 on the list.

Female names mostly dominate the women’s lists and male names the men’s.

The most popular entertainment and pop-culture passwords were “naruto”, a Japanese manga series, “pokemon”, and “kalleanka”, meaning Donald Duck in Swedish.

Password “superman” is the most popular pop-culture password in SA at number 21 on the list.

The most popular bands and artists include “blink-182” and “eminem”, with metal bands , “metallica” and “slipknot” making the men's list in several countries.

Women often used “justinbieber”, “onedirection”, and “tokiohotel” as passwords.

There are no bands or artists listed in the 200 most popular SA passwords.

Soccer-related passwords were the most popular sports passwords with people using their local teams as their passwords, such as “colocolo” in Chile, “national” in Brazil, “sparta” in the Czech Republic, “marseille” in France, “schalke04” in Germany, and “olympiakos” in Greece.

The UK sports password list contained almost all the Premier League teams, with “Liverpool” and “arsenal” in the lead.

“Liverpool” Is the most popular sports-related password in SA.

“It’s also worth noting that football-related passwords were more common among men.”

The research informed how weak the top passwords were by indicating the time it would take a hacker to crack that password.

“While the 'time to crack' measure is indicative and depends on various technological aspects, it’s a good reference point that shows how poor these passwords are.

“Overall, in the global list, 169 passwords out of the 200 can be cracked in less than a second. That’s 84.5%, whereas last year the passwords seemed a bit stronger — 73% of the passwords could be cracked in less than a second.”

NordPass CEO Jonas Karklys said passwords keep getting weaker, and people still don’t maintain proper password hygiene.

“It’s important to understand that passwords are the gateway to our digital lives, and with us spending more and more time online, it’s becoming enormously important to take better care of our cybersecurity.

“The purpose of this research is to showcase that poor passwords are still a very big problem worldwide, but there are some simple steps you can take to prevent your password from appearing on the list next year.”

If you've found your password on the “most popular” list, Karklys advises the following steps to improve your password hygiene:

  1. If you found your password on the list, make sure to change it to a unique and strong one. Ideally, use a password generator online or in your password manager app to create a truly complex password.
  2. Store your passwords in a password manager. Nowadays, an average person has around 100 accounts, so it would be impossible to remember all the passwords if they are indeed unique and complex. Password managers are a great solution for that, but make sure to use a trustworthy, reliable and, ideally, third-party audited provider.
  3. Use multi-factor authentication. Whether it’s biometric authentication, a phone message, or a physical key, it’s always a good idea to add an extra security layer on top of your password.

The top 10 most common passwords in SA are:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345
  4. 123456789
  5. password1
  6. qwerty
  7. 12345678
  8. 1234567890
  9. 1234
  10. chregan