Microsoft has announced that it will be improving account security by banning users from creating weak passwords.
This comes in the aftermath of the major LinkedIn data leak recently, with information showing that passwords such as “123456” (the most popular password choice in 2015), “password”, “linkedin”, “football” and “qwerty” were all highly popular among users.
Weak passwords such as those are now banned from the Microsoft Account and Azure Active Directory system, to make it less likely your account will be hacked.
Alex Weinert, of the Microsoft Identity Protection team, said: “We analyse the passwords that are being used most commonly. Bad guys use this data to inform their attacks – whether building a rainbow table or trying to brute force accounts by trying popular passwords against them.
“What we do with the data is prevent you from having a password anywhere near the current attack list, so those attacks won’t work.”
It was revealed that Microsoft experiences more than 10 million hacking attempts on its accounts every day, which although slightly concerning, also means that Microsoft can record lots of data about attempted intrusions, to help make accounts more secure.
Simple, easy-to-remember passwords are worryingly common, and provide very little security against hackers. If you have those aforementioned passwords – or similar ones – for any accounts, it is strongly recommended to change them as soon as possible.
What puts your personal data at even greater risk is the fact that many people use the same password for a number of accounts, be it social media or banking, so if cyber criminals correctly guess correctly just once, they may well be able to access many more accounts with the same password.
And to those who instead just switch to equally simple, memorable passwords – Microsoft’s software will constantly improve and update, so these new weak passwords will end up banned too.