Hotmail to ban ‘123456’ passwords

16 Jul 2011

Microsoft’s Hotmail is going to force users who have simple passwords to change them into ones that are more difficult to guess in an effort to increase the service’s security.

The webmail service will ban the use of easy-to-guess passwords, such as ‘123456’ or ‘gogiants’. Hackers can access email accounts by guessing at correct passwords via trial and error.

Hotmail will be implementing the feature soon.

“If you’re already using a common password, you may, at some point in the future, be asked to change it to a stronger password,” Dick Craddock, the group program manager for Hotmail, wrote in a blog post.

So what makes a strong password? One that contains a mix of numbers, characters and letters (both upper case and lower case). Users should avoid passwords that are words that can be found in a dictionary, or number combinations that may be easy to guess, such as a birthdate.