MY HEARTRATE increased while reading of US journalist Evan Osnos, who found himself locked out of his iPad for 25 million minutes - which equates to almost 49 years - after his three-year-old son tried to guess his password.

The message read: 'iPad is disabled try again in 25,536,442 minutes.'

Worse still, according to the manufacturer, consecutive wrong entries erase the device's content, and the only way to retrieve the data is to restore a backup version, whatever that means.

After wondering how clever his three-year-old must be to have a bash at guessing a password, I considered what I would do if such a thing were to happen to my laptop, and concluded that I would probably run out into the street screaming and pulling my hair out.

Many of us are reliant on electronic devices and the passwords to access them. Only today, I became wound up trying to access my expenses at work. I’d forgotten the password and knew that I only had about three attempts before it would lock me out and I’d have to ring the accounts department and sheepishly ask for someone to reset it. Thankfully, I managed to calm down and dragged the password out from the inner recesses of my brain.

My fault, I know, for choosing xthertgkyyiop56332. I’ve now changed it to the name of the name of my cat - I know that’s a bad idea, but at least I can remember it.

Names, soccer players, musicians and fictional characters make up some of the worst passwords of the year, according to statistics released this week by the Government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

But nothing beats 123456 as the worst password of all, with 123456789 coming a close second. The NCSC said more than 30 million victims use those two passwords alone.

The security centre compiled information with the help of Troy Hunt's 'Have I been Pwned' breach-notification service and found that more than 23 million people had 123456 as the password for online accounts.

This were followed by 1111111, 12345678, abc123, 1234567, password1, 12345, 1234567890, 123123, 000000, and Iloveyou.

Many used their favorite football team - 280,000 people had Liverpool as their password, 216,000 had Chelsea, and 179,000 had Arsenal - musician or fictional characters such as Superman and Batman.

Passwords are, unfortunately, part of our lives. The majority of people can’t access their own bank accounts without one.

I haven’t gone down that road yet. Unusually, I still visit my bank in person and even use a passbook - how quaint is that?

Compared with most people I don’t do much online, but I occasionally use it for shopping and also to book hotels.

My numerous passwords are scribbled in the back of my address book, but I regularly misplace that, so I am a frequent clicker of the ‘Forgotten your password?’ option.

When I choose a new one, I simply type in the old one with an extra number or digit. That’s another thing you’re not supposed to do.

I haven’t a clue how people who run their lives online manage to memorise so many passwords - they must have to remember dozens. That’s probably why many of us throw caution to the wind and choose easy-to-remember words.

It’s a far cry from the good old days, when your telephone number and bank pin number were about all you needed to submit to memory.

The world was a far simpler place to live. There were no broadband crashes or computer malfunctions to worry about, and no electronic gadgets that could cause untold stress when they failed or locked you out.

I know which world I prefer.

*WITHIN the past month I have witnessed at least half-a-dozen hedgehog deaths on roads near my home.

Estimates suggests as many as 335,000 are killed on Britain’s roads each year. I realise that some deaths are unavoidable, when the creatures dash out unexpectedly, but couldn’t drivers take a little more care? Hedgehog numbers have declined from more than 30 million in the 1950s to around 1.5 million now. They are classed as an endangered species. We should do our very best to watch out for them.