As part of the honeypot (a system put out there to be attacked so data can be gathered about attack trends and techniques) Microsoft collected hundreds of user names and tens of thousands of passwords used in automated attacks in the last couple of months. The attackers were targeting a fake FTP server, Microsoft says.
Here's some statistics they published in this blog post on Friday afternoon:
Longest user name: 15 chars
Longest password: 29 chars
Average user name length: 6 chars
Average password length: 8 chars
And as one would expect, some of the most common user names are not only administrator and admin, but also first names such as Andrew, dave, and steve. The two most common passwords aren't really worth having as passwords at all: password and 123456.
If your user name is easy to guess, you've already done half of the work for your adversary.
If you think some of these attackers aren't motivated, consider this, according to the Microsoft Malware Protection Center: one attacker tried more than 400,000 user name and password combinations.
The advice below, from Microsoft, has been said many times, and largely goes ignored. It's worth repeating:
You should take good care of what user name and password you're choosing. If your account has no limit on the number of login attempts, then knowing the user name is like having half of the job done. Especially for the user names from the top 10 (and mainly for the Administrator/Administrateur accounts), the passwords shouldn't be picked lightly.
Usually we choose easy to type and/or easy to remember passwords, but please don't forget that those passwords (for the moment) are the most commonly used authentication on the Internet so they need to be strong. The three basic things to remember when creating a strong password are the following: