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Pets lead the way as Google reveals top 10 most popular passwords

Nearly half of UK adults still write down their online passwords and almost a sixth use their pet's name to "protect" their web accounts, according to new research which also revealed the top 10 most popular passwords.

Google Apps surveyed 2,000 web users and found that risky behaviour in relation to protecting online identities (opens in new tab) is still prevalent, despite knowledge of regular and high profile hacking attempts across websites.

Wedding anniversaries, dates of birth for close relations, and the name of a child were also among the most common passwords chosen by users. Old favourite "Password" featured in the top ten codewords used by those Google surveyed.

Intriguingly, 10 per cent of those surveyed admitted to guessing a work colleague’s password to gain access to their accounts.

And nearly half (48 per cent) have shared their passwords with someone else. Women are more likely to share their password than men, and over twice as likely to share it with their child, revealed the Google research.

Eran Feigenbaum, director of security at Google Apps, said, "Lax attitudes to online security can lead to serious consequences if strangers access your information (opens in new tab).

"Simple steps such as choosing more complicated passwords, always logging out of services and considering two-factor authentication - which requires more than just a password to access your account - can make a real difference to your security online.”

The top ten passwords (Source: Google Apps)

1) Pet’s name

2) Significant dates (like a wedding anniversary)

3) Date of birth of close relation

4) Child’s name

5) Other family member’s name

6) Place of birth

7) Favourite holiday

8) Something related to favourite football team

9) Current partner’s name

10) The word "password"

(opens in new tab)So, passwords are weak. What's replacing them? We've taken a look (opens in new tab) where security technology is heading.

Passwords have consistently been identified as the weak link in modern security, costing hacks on everyday users right up to large corporations. The Evernote data breach earlier this year was a worthy case in point, when we analysed what needs to be done to replace traditional passwords and tighten security (opens in new tab).