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Seven password mistakes to avoid

Lynn Wright / 26 February 2016 ( 09 January 2020 )

Keep your information and online accounts safe by avoiding rookie password mistakes.

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It seems everything you do online these days requires a password. But watch out – most people give little thought to their passwords, creating short, easy-to-remember passwords that can be defeated by hackers in mere seconds. 

It pays to get your password right and create a password that greatly reduces the chance of your online accounts being hacked. 

Here are the common password mistakes to avoid…

1. Personal data

Many people create passwords based on personal information that’s all too easy to find out. 

Never use a password that includes personal details, such as your birthday, your address or the names of your spouse, pet or children.

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2. Common passwords

They may be easy to remember but passwords such as ‘123456’ , ‘abcdefg’, ‘qwerty’, ‘letmein’ and ‘password’ top the list of the most common passwords people use – and are the first passwords even a novice hacker will try. 

Don’t grab a dictionary to choose a password either. Hackers can quickly check hundreds of thousands of entries in seconds using software. Choose a complex, random password.

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3. Easy to find

Jotting down your password on a post-it note or piece of paper and keeping it next to your computer is a bad idea – it’s like leaving your front door key in the lock. 

Choose passwords that are memorable enough that you don’t need to write them down, but if you must, then keep them in a secure location or use a password manager.

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4. Too short

The shorter your password, the less secure it is. 

Hackers use software to crack passwords and the longer it takes, the more likely they are to give up and move on to easier prey.

Each additional character in your password dramatically increases the time it takes to crack. So use a password with at least eight characters, although 12 or 14 characters are better. 

Don’t simply add a couple of digits to the end of a password to lengthen it as hackers expect this.

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5. Not complex enough 

Avoid using passwords containing all letters or all numbers, especially if sequential, such as ‘1234abcd’. 

Make sure your password includes both upper and lower case letters, numbers and keyboard symbols. 

However, avoid common patterns easily spotted by hackers, such as putting two or four numbers before or after the letters or adding just one symbol, such as ‘!’, at the end of the password.

Try creating a code that only you could understand the logic behind - for example, swapping out every vowel in your password for the numbers of your birth date.  

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6. Too old

Using the same password for years can be a mistake as someone may acquire your password and use it to snoop or steal over an extended period of time. 

Regularly changing your password prevents this from happening; however creating a strong but memorable password each time can be challenge, so consider using a password manager.

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7. One password

Using the same password for multiple accounts poses a security risk. If a hacker cracks your password, he can then access all your other accounts that use that same password. 

Always use a unique password for each of your online accounts.


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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.