Millions using 123456 as password, security study finds

Millions using 123456 as password, security study finds

Analysis carried out by the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) found that huge numbers of people are still - despite continued advice - using weak, easy-to-guess passwords to secure their accounts. The NCSC suggests simply using three random words - hard to guess, but difficult to forget.

For its first cyber-survey, the NCSC analysed public databases of breached accounts to see which words, phrases and strings people used.

Top of the list was 123456, appearing in more than 23 million passwords.

However, there will be other passwords that are more specific (such as employees in an organisation using the company name in their password) or time limited ('Spring2019', etc.) that will rarely be in a global breach list, but attackers may still try to use.

One of the major risks involved with these commonly used passwords is the fact that most people use the same password on multiple websites. The password "liverpool" was breached 280,723 times, "chelsea" 216,677 times and "arsenal" 179,095 times. Blink-182 topped the charts of music acts. If you want to keep your personal data safe, don't go choosing the name of your favourite football team.

The NCSC study also quizzed people about their security habits and fears.

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It also revealed that only 15 per cent of British internet users say they know a great deal about protecting themselves online.

Easily guessed passwords being used across multiple accounts have been highlighted as a major gap in the online security practices of United Kingdom internet users.

Security expert Troy Hunt, who maintains a database of hacked account data, said picking a good password was the "single biggest control" people had over their online security.

You'd think that people would have learned by now not to use obvious passwords.

The survey was published ahead of the NCSC's Cyber UK conference that will be held in Glasgow from 24-25 April.

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