Friday, March 20, 2009

What is there in a password?

I just came across a post which says "123456" is the most commonly used password on the Internet, followed by "password" in the second place. This reminds me - in 2000, I was on a consulting assignment to a very popular Indian gaming site in Mumbai. During the course of work we had to login and check the user journeys and the DBA there showed me the passwords which people used. Surprisingly the passwords were stored as clear text fields in the database and one could just query the table and see what they were.

I happened to discuss with him what were the most common passwords:
- #1 was "password"
- Some people had used "123456" or "999999", but in India in those days, "password" was the clear winner
- The second most password - a variation of the username - like "username1"
- The third most popular one - name of your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend - this was the most common one among male users!

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