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updated 11/23/2011 10:30:18 AM ET 2011-11-23T15:30:18

In yet another attempt to hammer home the lesson that strong passwords are required to navigate the Internet, a new list has been released of the "worst passwords of the year."

Topping the list is that old standby, "password." Right behind it are more clever gems, "123456," "12345678," "qwerty" and "abc123."

Not coincidentally, those are also the most popular passwords on the Internet, according to Los Gatos, Calif.-based password-management-software maker SplashData.

"Hackers," said SplashData CEO Morgan Slain in a company press release, "can easily break into many accounts just by repeatedly trying common passwords."

"Many people continue to choose weak, easy-to-guess ones, placing themselves at risk from fraud and identity theft," Slain said. "What you don't want is a password that is easily guessable. If you have a password that is short or common or a word in the dictionary, it's like leaving your door open for identity thieves."

That is very true. A good, strong password should be comprised of a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and punctuation marks, and should be at least eight characters long. (Some experts recommend 12 characters.)

Furthermore, if you really want to protect sensitive data, such as bank accounts or health information, don't use passwords for more than one account. Data breaches are far too common, and the first thing cybercriminals do when they get password data from a compromised website is to see if some passwords will work on other sites. (They often do.)

Unfortunately, most people are lazy -- hence SplashData's list, which was collated using the millions of passwords posted online this year by malicious hackers, who sometimes aren't so smart about passwords themselves. (Click here to find out if your account is among those compromised.)

The problem has gotten so bad that Microsoft's Hotmail has begun to force people to use better passwords.

Don't be a victim. Change your password to something strong. Here's how.

And here's the full list of SplashData's 25 worst passwords of 2011:

password

123456

12345678

qwerty

abc123

monkey

1234567

letmein

trustno1

dragon

baseball

111111

iloveyou

master

sunshine

ashley

bailey

passw0rd

shadow

123123

654321

superman

qazwsx

michael

football

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