For most of us, remembering our various online passwords is a bit of a headache – but it’s nothing compared to the problems you can encounter if your account is compromised.
So why, according to new data from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)’s first UK Cyber Survey, are millions of us are still using passwords that are putting our information at risk?
Breach analysis from the worrying findings showed that 23.2 million people around the world are using the password ‘123456’, while 7.7 million are using ‘123456789’.
Other easily-decoded passwords are ‘qwerty’, favoured by 3.8 million users, and, perhaps the simplest of all, ‘password’, with 3.6 million users.
Other popular, and therefore unsafe passwords include family names, football teams, musicians and characters like superheroes – all of which can make your accounts more susceptible to interference.
Dr Ian Levy, NCSC Technical Director, commented on the list: ‘We understand that cyber security can feel daunting to a lot of people, but the NCSC has published lots of easily applicable advice to make you much less vulnerable.
‘Password re-use is a major risk that can be avoided – nobody should protect sensitive data with something that can be guessed, like their first name, local football team or favourite band.’
NCSC’s research noted that 89 per cent of us use the internet to make online purchases – with 39 per cent on a weekly basis. Our most common is money being stolen from our accounts, with 42 per cent feeling it likely to happen to them in the next two years.
As a result of the new study, the NCSC hope to cut the risk of further breaches by building awareness of how attackers use these easy-to-guess passwords.
‘Using hard-to-guess passwords is a strong first step and we recommend combining three random but memorable words,’ Dr Levy advised. ‘Be creative and use words memorable to you, so people can’t guess your password.’