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Are You Using Any of These Words in Your Passwords? If So, Change It Right Now

It has been revealed that at least 15% of the UK population use their pet’s name as a password for online accounts. This follows news of a 20% rise in cyber security threats last year as the world navigated the COVID-19 pandemic – and it’s unlikely this figure is going to decline any time soon, warn the experts.

According to a recent survey conducted by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), UK passwords are often made up of things people can easily predict – such as their pet’s names (15%), family members’ names (14%), a significant date (13%) or their favourite sports team (6%).

If you take into account there are 53 million adults in the UK, at least 7.9 million people have their pet’s name in their password, making them an ideal target to criminals using trial-and-error techniques of common codes.

Sarah Knowles, principal security consultant at Nexor, which works with the UK Government and military, warns:

“No one is immune to the threat of cyber attacks. We have recently seen cyber criminals imitate the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centre for Diseases Control (CDC) and the UK government, by creating false domains and text messages requesting passwords and financial contributions.

“These types of scams are only becoming more and more common – and, sadly, the cyber criminals are becoming very convincing. You will have heard time and again to ensure your passwords are all unique and cannot easily be guessed, and there is good reason for that; a single cyber attack could cost you thousands of pounds. So while you may be in love with your new puppy, Bella, it definitely isn’t a good idea to combine her name with a memorable date, which an attacker could easily suss out through a bit of digging on social media!”

Riskiest Passwords

Looking at lists of the most popular pet names, baby names, sports teams, TV shows and the most common birthdays, Nexor has created their definitive list of the riskiest words to include in passwords; if yours contains any of these, you might want to change it pronto.

Pet Names

  • Bella

  • Poppy

  • Lola

  • Luna

  • Alfie

  • Milo

  • Max

  • Bailey

  • Ruby

  • Charlie

  • Buddy

  • Daisy

  • Teddy

  • Molly

  • Oscar

  • Bob

  • Coco

  • Hugo

  • Archie

  • Rosie

  • Simba

  • Leo

  • Nala

  • Tilly

  • Willow

  • Millie

  • Loki

Names

  • Oliver

  • Olivia

  • George

  • Amelia

  • Noah

  • Isla

  • Arthur

  • Ava

  • Harry

  • Mia

  • Leo

  • Isabella

  • Muhammad

  • Sophia

  • Jack

  • Grace

  • Charlie

  • Lily

  • Oscar

  • Freya

  • Jacob

  • Emily

  • Henry

  • Ivy

  • Thomas

  • Ella

  • Freddie

  • Rosie

  • Alfie

  • Evie

  • Theo

  • Florence

  • William

  • Poppy

  • Theodore

  • Charlotte

  • Archie

  • Willow

  • Joshua

  • Evelyn

Sports Teams

  • Team GB

  • Paralympic GB

  • England Women’s National Football Team

  • England National Football Team

  • GB Swimming Team

  • England National Rugby Union Team

  • England National Rugby League Team

  • Great Britain Athletics Team

  • England National Cricket Team

  • New Zealand National Rugby Union Team

  • Harlem Globetrotters

  • Liverpool F.C.

  • England Men’s National Football Team

  • British Gymnastics

  • England Women’s Cricket Team

  • British and Irish Lions

  • Brazil National Football Team

  • England Women’s National Rugby Union Team

  • Mercedes F1

  • FC Barcelona

TV Shows

  • Only Fools and Horses

  • Planet Earth

  • Fawlty Towers

  • The Blue Planet

  • Blue Planet II

  • The Two Ronnies

  • The Simpsons

  • Planet Earth II

  • BBC News at Ten

  • The Flintstones

  • Dad’s Army

  • Blackadder

  • The Vicar of Dibley

  • Blue Peter

  • The Chase

  • The Great British Bake Off

  • Mr Bean

  • David Attenborough Natural Curiosities

  • Life on Earth

  • Morecambe and Wise

Common Birthdays

  • 26 September

  • 25 September

  • 24 September

  • 27 September

  • 30 September

  • 1 October

  • 23 September

  • 19 September

  • 18 September

  • 2 October

  • 29 September

  • 22 September

  • 28 September

  • 20 October

  • 3 October

  • 17 September

  • 21 September

  • 4 October

  • 16 September

  • 12 September

Common Birth Years

  • 1959

  • 1960

  • 1961

  • 1962

  • 1963

  • 2004

  • 2005

  • 2006

  • 2007

  • 2008

  • 1984

  • 1985

  • 1986

  • 1987

  • 1988

  • 1979

  • 1980

  • 1981

  • 1982

  • 1983

Steps to take to become more cyber secure

Create Strong and Unique Passwords

A strong password should be longer than 12 characters and include numbers and different cases. Using multiple passwords for different accounts can be hard to remember, therefore we recommend using three interchangeable words that are hard to guess.

Two-Factor Authentication

If possible, always use two-factor authentication to double up on security for your account. Some applications offer this and software is available to ensure that all applications can use it.

Don’t share sensitive information over the phone

Never ever share sensitive information with someone that rings unexpectedly or texts from an unknown number. Make sure to check who they are, find a contact number from some other source (e.g. invoice, website) and ring them back. Legitimate businesses will be perfectly happy with this and will understand your precautions.

Double-check suspicious interactions

Double-check anything that seems unusual, especially when being asked to do something outside of normal processes as it can be extremely easy to get caught off guard.

Read Nexor’s 2020 cyber security report for more information on the latest threats and how to respond to them.

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