These Are the 20 Stupidest Computer Passwords

If yours is on this list, you're an idiot.

You know you ought to change the passwords you use online more often. You hear about it, you read about it, you even know that lady in accounting who got hacked and is still trying to straighten out her finances six months later. But your passwords are like your slippers — cozy and comfortable. It’s so hard to remember the passwords you already have. You just can’t face the prospect of changing them again. Right?

Well, good news. We’re not here to try to get you to change your computer passwords. We already tried that, and besides, the Wall Street Journal just tried it, too, in an article by Punam A. Keller, a professor at Dartmouth’s school of business. Well, actually, her article was on how businesses can encourage password-changing amongst their clientele. But even Keller admits she hasn’t changed her password — she uses the same one for her computer, iTunes, PayPal, and lots of online shopping sites — in three years.

Doesn’t that make you feel better — knowing that an Ivy League professor who’s getting paid to tell companies how to get their customers to change their passwords doesn’t change her password? That’s the business we’re in today, my friend — making you feel good about yourself. 

That’s why we’re bringing to your attention a list that was published alongside Keller’s advice. Compiled by SplashData, a company that makes password-management apps, it contains the 20 worst passwords — those “contained most often in files containing stolen passwords posted online by hackers.” Why will this list make you feel better about yourself? Because we know there’s no way in hell you’d be so stupid as to choose any of these.

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345
  4. 12345678
  5. qwerty
  6. 123456789
  7. 1234
  8. baseball
  9. dragon
  10. football
  11. 1234567
  12. monkey
  13. letmein
  14. abc123
  15. 111111
  16. mustang
  17. access
  18. shadow
  19. master
  20. michael

We enjoy imagining the clever, devious minds that employ numbers 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 11, depending on how long the password is required to be. Number 2 is, of course, a classic, and probably the one your parents use, in case you want to get into their bank account. (Even the octogenarian inventor of the computer password told WSJ last year that the whole password thing has “become kind of a nightmare.”) You “qwerty” users probably imagine you’re being very clever and stealthy. You’re not. It’s interesting that “baseball” outranks “football” on the list; ESPN says the latter sport has been more popular in the U.S. for the past 30 years. “Dragon” must be gamers, or at least Game of Thrones-ers. We have no explanation for “monkey,” and the first 10 times we looked at the list, we read “letmein” as “Let mein,” like the beginning of some German spiritual. Then light dawned.

Number 15 shows a frightening lack of both originality and diversity. Number 16, “mustang,” is clearly the product of aging boomer males’ wistful car longings. “Shadow” and “master” are sort of creepy, and also male-y; we don’t want to be sexist, but we can’t imagine a woman choosing either of those. And “michael”? WTF is with “michael”? According to the Social Security Administration, Michael has held the top spot on the male most-popular-baby-names list more times in the past 100 years — 44, to be exact — than any other. If that’s been your eponymous password choice, gentlemen, you really should change it. Don’t you at least have a middle name?

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