Pet names ‘used as passwords by millions’

A recent survey conducted by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has found that 15% of the population uses pets’ names, 14% use a family member’s name and 13% pick a notable date as their passwords.

And alarmingly, 6% of people are using “password” as all, or a part, of their password.

Other problematic passwords include a supported sports team (6%), a string of numbers (6%), or a favourite TV show (5%).

It was urged that using your pets’ name as a password can make you an easy target for cyber-criminals as a pets’ name can potentially be cracked by brute-forcing or repeatedly guessing from a list of common pet’s names.

The same applies to family names or birthdays, which can very easily be taken from social media as many people have a profile on social media websites in this day and age.

This is all overshadowed by the most damaging form of password complacency, which is using the same password across multiple websites and services. By using the same password across multiple areas, if a cyber-criminal is able to acquire the password from just one of those areas, it can open up all other services and websites for them to exploit.

CyberLab advice:

When creating passwords, remember the following:

    • Do not use or include easily guessed words in your passwords

    • Where possible, try to use three random words or password generators (e.g., Bitwarden)

    • Always include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters

    • Do not use the same password for every website, even slight changes can be easily guessed

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