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Infographic: Are your Internet passwords strong enough?

Password protection is a big issue in the growing technology age, but how do you ensure that you are building a code that will work overtime to keep out hackers?

PasswordGenie has released an infographic displaying characteristics of weak and common passwords, and offering a few tips on how to keep your data safe.

With so many websites to sign into and too many passwords to remember, most people try to ease the process by using the same code, or simply typing a series of consecutive numbers or letters. But, as PasswordGenie points out, "hackers feast on such lax security measures and can obtain your information much easier than you might think."

Your name or birthday, common words, and other easy-to-remember combinations are those most likely to be discovered and bypassed. Also, friends' and family members' names, words in the dictionary, and common names (John, Robert, Elizabeth, Jennifer) are no-nos, as are repeating your username/login information or simply swiping the keyboard ("qwerty" or "asdfgh").

Despite websites that urge users to create a password with more than six characters, as well as a combination of lower- and uppercase letters, digits, and special characters, few people follow the rules. PasswordGenie reported that only 30 per cent use seven or more characters, while 16 per cent focus only on digits, 40 per cent use only lowercase letters, and less than 4 per cent type a special character or two.

But how much do those guidelines really matter? A lot, according to PasswordGenie, which calculated a rough number of hours (or days, or years, or even millennia) that a computer would likely need to crack different passwords of varying strengths.

Unsurprisingly, the all-lowercase, six-character code would last about 10 minutes. Even a seven-character password stitched together with numbers and symbols would take only four years to decipher.

If you're really looking for a steady password, try typing in a mish-mash of eight numbers and symbols–the computer won't be able to access your data for about 463 years. Even better: nine or more special characters will keep you secure for about 44,530 years.

Users of Yahoo and LinkedIn have been the victims of recent password breaches, which turned up the news that "123456," "work," "abc123," "123456789," and "the" were among the 10 most popular user passwords in each situation. 119 people used the word "sex" as their LinkedIn passcode.

Don't feel bad if you are logging into your email, social networks, favorite online retailers, and all other sites with only a handful of different passwords. According to PasswordGenie, the average user visits 25 password-protected sites, but only uses six separate codes. In fact, 33 per cent of people use the same password for every site.

For more, see Password Genie's full infographic below.