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5 Things You Shouldn’t Use as Your Password

Picture this: you get an email that appears to be from your own account. It says it’s from a hacker, they’ve guessed your password, and they want you to send some Bitcoin their way or else they’ll leak your secrets to your Facebook friends list. This sounds like a scam, but they tell you that your password is “Saskatoon”. How did they know?

Well, if you happen to live in Saskatoon, it wasn’t that hard to guess. 

Chances are, the scammer in the above-mentioned scenario doesn’t really have access to your account. Said scammer is probably just trying this little trick on as many people as possible, hoping someone goes for it. The password guess just adds a little extra plausibility. 

But this highlights a problem: most people use passwords that are too easy to guess. Like what?

The Name of Your Town (or Hometown)

The name of your town is listed right on your Facebook profile. Plus, anyone who knows anything about you knows where you live. And yet, many people use this as their password. Facts this basic about you probably shouldn’t be used for security. 

What to Use Instead: Maybe your city has a nickname. Instead of “Toronto”, you could use “thebigsmoke”. Or maybe you can use your childhood street address, like “349victoriaboulevard”. 

Names of Pets

If you’re anything like us, you have dozens of snaps of Socks the cat or Tilly the golden retriever gracing your Instagram page. We love our pets. Perhaps that’s why it’s no surprise that their names frequently show up in the lists of most common passwords people use. 

What to Use Instead: Okay, so maybe Socks the cat doesn’t make a great password. But if Socks really likes a particular kind of cat food, maybe your password can be “fancyfeast”. Or if Tilly has a favourite toy, your password can be “purpledogbone”. 

Names of Your Kids (and Other Family Members)

The names of your family are easily discoverable to anyone who cares to look. Even if you don’t share that much, chances are other family members do, making simple information like this easy to discover. 

What to Use Instead: Your son Alexander shouldn’t be your password, but if he had a nickname as a toddler you could use “littlebooger”. Or no doubt your kids are a rich source of family jokes, inspiring passwords like “thefruitcakeincident”.   

Year of Birth & Other Significant Dates

If we were trying to guess your PIN, we only have a one in ten thousand chance. But if we started with a 1 and a 9, we might be a whole lot closer. That’s because many people use a date, like 1973, as their PIN or for other passwords. Don’t do that. Your date of birth is pretty easy to find out. Or, indeed, guess. 

What to Use Instead: If you’re a sci-fi fan, you can use future dates, such as 2161, the founding year of the Federation in Star Trek. Or, apply a simple code to numbers, where 1=A, 2=B, and so on. Then you just need to remember a four-letter word. For example, “idea” becomes 9451, or “chai” becomes 3819. 

Sports Team Stuff

If your Facebook page is 98% pictures of you in a Montreal Canadiens sweater, your password can’t be “montrealcanadiens”. Nor should it be simple derivatives, like “thehabs” or “CareyPrice”. 

What to Use Instead: The great thing about sports is that it comes with plenty of trivia. Your password could be “Damphousse93”, because the first Canadiens game you ever saw was in 1993 and Vincent Damphousse scored the first goal.

The Word “Password”


The Bottom Line

Cyber security risks are only growing. The online world abounds with people who want to break into your accounts or trick you into handing over money or information. The first step to online security is choosing a strong password. Don’t put it off. Do it now.