Eye scanners, veins and heartbeats set to replace the humble password

Thousands of Australians are putting themselves at unnecessary risk of identity theft by using login credentials that are easy to hack, such as "password" and "123456" Australian security experts say.

New research from online security SplashData has revealed its annual list of most common passwords, the top ten including 123456, password, qwerty and iloveyou.

Andrew Clouston, founder and CEO of personal profile manager app MOGOplus said the difficulty remembering complex passwords across multiple sites meant too many consumers were using the same basic credentials across all of their accounts.

"If you're not using unique, strong passwords for each website you log into you're just asking to be defrauded," Clouston said. "Strong passwords are at least 12 characters in length and contain a mix of letters, numbers and symbols preferably in both upper and lower case."

One of the biggest trends of the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January was the effort to kill the password. Innovations on display included Fujitsu's PulseWallet which identifies you by scanning the unique pattern of veins on your hand, Bionym which let you use your heartbeat as a password and EyeLock iris scanning software that recognises users by their eyes.

"The heartbeat, vein and eye scanner tech from CES coupled with what we're already seeing with the iPhone fingerprint sensor shows that the humble password's days are numbered," said Clouston.

An industry working group dubbed FIDO, which includes representatives from Google, PayPal, Microsoft and MasterCard among others, is working to develop new standards for authentication that do not use traditional passwords.

Poor password security is as old as passwords themselves and not even the US military is immune - it has recently been revealed that for 20 years during the Cold War the launch code for US nuclear missiles was "00000000."

If you're still using the signature at checkout keep in mind that pins are set to become compulsory in 2013 for all purchases over $100. Make sure you're organised and have your money protected behind a secure pin.