20 Questions for a Safe Password

The author, Parry Aftab, is an Internet privacy and security lawyer and an expert in cybercrime and best practices.

Passwords, when misused, can be a serious threat to students who quickly find their accounts hacked, taken over or messages sent to their friends in their name. While 70% of polled students told Wired Safety that they share their passwords with their friends, others have passwords that can be easily guessed. We find that most passwords are created from this list. Is your password formed from these 20 questions? How many of your friends know the answer to these? How hard will be it for them to guess your password? Too easy!

  1. favorite sports team
  2. where you go to school
  3. pet’s name
  4. favorite color
  5. lucky number
  6. date of birth
  7. middle name
  8. favorite animal
  9. favorite movie
  10. favorite band/singer
  11. what college do you want to go to
  12. the year you graduate high school
  13. best friend’s name
  14. favorite sports player
  15. favorite season
  16. shoe size
  17. favorite clothing store
  18. favorite book
  19. dream car
  20. dream job

Want to learn more about how easily passwords can be guessed? Try one of these:

  • Put together your own list of 20 questions that you think are used most often by other students for their passwords.
  • Do a survey of how many students know the answers to these 20 questions for their best friends.
  • Pull together a better list that other students can agree upon for the 20 questions.
  • Ask your parents if their passwords are among those that could have been guessed by these 20 questions.