I can read your mind … really


Where does your mind go when you need to think of a new password for something online?

Let me guess …

First stop I reckon is that you’ll think of an existing password as the base or simply use the same one that you use everywhere else. That could be the end of it right there.

Alternatively you might think, “no I really shouldn’t keep using that one, so I’ll come up with something else”.

Pets, kids and family are all in there

So, next, all of the following are likely to go through your mind:

  • Your partner’s/best friend’s name
  • A relative’s name
  • Your own nickname
  • Your children’s names
  • Your pet’s name/breed of cat/dog/hamster
  • Your favourite place to go on holiday
  • The place you were born
  • Your house number or name
  • Your street name
  • Your date or year of birth

And then you might really spice things up by adding “1234” or “4321” at the end!

So there’s actually quite a few different permutations there that it would be really hard for someone to guess, right?

Well, that all depends.

Beware social media

Are you mindful of what you post on social media? Do you talk about Bobby the hamster, or the holiday you’re about to go on, or how it was lovely meeting-up with your best friend Sara?

If you do, it’s likely you’ve already massively increased your chances of having your password hacked.

If you then think that it’s a matter of public record where you live, and most people have had their age or date of birth made public somewhere. If you’ve recently got married and it’s either been traditionally announced in the local paper or you or one of your friends has posted all about it online, suddenly your new husband’s or wife’s name will be public knowledge too.

The options narrow

Where does all that leave you on that list of 10 things that you might think of first when dreaming-up a new password?

There’s not much left now that somebody couldn’t guess or work out.

If you take all of that information that is, suddenly, so readily-available and throw it into the software that hackers have easy access to – the kind of software that crunches millions of combinations of words that you feed it in seconds – you might be able to see just how straightforward “guessing” a password can become.

Of course, if you can bear to make all your passwords unique and strong, you won’t have to worry about any of this, or what you post on social media as you’ll already made yourself much more uninteresting to a potential hacker.

For help on how you can improve the strength of your passwords, take a look at our handy tools here