Your personal WiFi network may seem like an unlikely target for hackers, particularly if you don’t live in a dense urban area. You may feel like you don’t even need a password. However, the risk of leaving your network poorly protected far exceeds the reward:
Potential Risk: A criminal could use a packet sniffer to monitor and record your non-secure Internet activity or simply use your WiFi connection to conduct criminal activity in secret — all under your name. Two very bad things that are easily avoided.
Potential Reward: You get to be lazy and never enter a WiFi password.
While easy Internet access is a huge perk, a safe and secure network is better. Let’s look at the 5 worst and 5 best passwords for your WiFi network.
#5 – 12345678
This old classic remains the number one password in the world. It’s easy to type, easy to remember, and also very easy to guess. Variants like 87654321 and abcd1234 are no better. If you actually want random strangers to break into your WiFi, then a simple string of ordered numbers or letters is the way to go.
#4 – zaq1zaq1
This one doesn’t seem all that bad, it even feels random enough to be unguessable. But this popular password that made SplashData’s list of worst passwords of 2016 is not random at all: A glance at the far left-hand side of any keyboard shows that “zaq1” is just the characters there running bottom to top. If a pattern is easy to spot, then a determined hacker will spot it.
#3 – Any Single Dictionary Word
Hackers often use automated software to submit hundreds of passwords a minute. This software quickly runs through the entire dictionary. Any single word is easy pickings.
#2 – A Password You Already Use
It’s generally never a good idea to use the same password across multiple accounts, and that’s especially true for your WiFi password since you’ll be sharing it with family and other visitors to your house. Do you really want your son’s friend Travis to know the password you use at for your bank account? We think not.
#1 – Your Home Address
It’s not uncommon for businesses that provide free WiFi to use their address as the password since it’s easy to remember. However, your home is not a cafe, even if your family treats it like one, so it’s best to avoid using your home address as a password.
#5 – A Random Address
While your home address is a no go, an address no one would associate with you can make an excellent password. Throw in some special characters and you’re set: 2532KodakAveTN#
#4 – A Randomized Assortment of Characters and Letters
It’s unlikely a hacker will put in the time and resources to break a password like “Y3%%xZ*&atT,>”. These sort of passwords are easy to forget, though, which negates their value since a password you can never remember doesn’t do you much good. Even Bill Burr, the man who essentially wrote the book on creating randomized passwords, now regrets encouraging people to do so.
#3 – A Dictionary Word Modified W/ Numbers & Special Characters
Using a single word works well if you modify it so it’s harder for hackers to crack. “Chocolate” is a terrible password. “!Ch0co1&Te!2” isn’t.
#2 – A Short Phrase
“You Shall Not Pass!” is a line famously yelled by Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings as he sought to stop the Balrog from passing a bridge in the Mines of Moria. It is also a very appropriate choice of words to introduce the idea of using passphrases instead of passwords.
Phrases provide complexity while remaining memorable. Do you have a favorite line in a movie? Then separate the words with special characters and you have a fairly strong password: You%Shall%Not%Pass!
#1 – A Short Phrase with Numbers & Special Characters
Taking a short phrase and sprucing it up with lots of special characters will make it even harder to crack. Take “Winter is Coming”: simply placing it in parentheses, separating the words with exclamation points, replacing the vowels with numbers, and putting the second word in CAPS gives you a very strong, yet still memorable password:
Just don’t use this particular password example since it comes from today’s most popular show on television and it is also in a public article on the Internet.