Is this your password? Change it.

  @Money March 15, 2013: 6:51 AM ET
password change

Passwords using easy-to-remember number sequences are not at all secure.

(Money Magazine)

For your account passwords or personal identification numbers, easy-to-recall codes are way too easy for others to guess.

Yet the most popular passwords are "123456" and, yes, "password," reports app developer SplashData.

One in 10 four-digit PINs is "1234," according to consulting firm Data Genetics. Says president Nick Berry, "It's staggering, people's lack of imagination."

Keys to tighter security

Go big and random: Longer passwords are harder to hack.

Avoid actual words, years, and calendar dates; instead, devise memorable nonsense from abbreviated sentences. "The best TV show was Sanford and Son," for example, becomes "TbTVswS&S."

Related: If you're using 'Password1,' change it

Store codes in the free, multi-device app Dashlane.

Don't repeat: Never reuse a password for sensitive accounts such as banks, email, or social media.

The security risks in paying by smartphone

You can, however, recycle a password for sites that don't store your personal info, such as Internet radio stations or online publications.

Tell lies: To keep people from guessing your password-reset questions -- that's how Scarlett Johansson's e-mail got hacked -- go crazy.

Related: LinkedIn is a hacker's dream tool

"Tell them your mother's maiden name is Superman," says Adam Levin, chairman of IDentity Theft 911. But now that he's said that, pick another name. To top of page



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