Basic passwords like 123456 still used despite warnings – cyber security expert

Basic passwords like 123456 still used despite warnings – cyber security expert

Easy-to-guess passwords like 123456 remain in use despite repeated warnings, according to a senior UK cyber security chief.

Chris Ensor, deputy director for cyber skills and growth at the British National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said the organisation is trying to change the “doctrine around passwords” and urging people and businesses to move away from making them “totally unmemorable”.

“It’s still going on, despite everyone saying ‘oh it’s a stupid thing to do’, but it kind of still goes on,” he explained at the Kent Cyber Security Forum, standing in front of a list of main offenders such as 123456 and qwerty.

(Adam Peck/PA)
(Adam Peck/PA)

“We’re trying to change how security is being done, but from an evidence-based perspective.

“We’re trying to bring some pragmatism to the whole approach to security, because if you enforce too many passwords on users, many just can’t do it.

“Use a password manager, because it does actually help, and it is better than trying to get people to remember lots of passwords.”

Mr Ensor also admitted to re-using passwords on websites he has “some confidence in”, despite caution of the risks.

“People re-use their passwords all over the place, on sites where, at the end of the day, you have no idea whether they’re going to look after the password or not,” he added.

The survey by NCSC – which is part of GCHQ – found that many British internet users did not know the best ways to protect themselves from cyber crime, with only 15% saying they knew “a great deal” about how to protect themselves from harmful activity online.

“Unfortunately, we are at the point with some security where people feel quite overwhelmed, there’s lots of rules, there’s lots of things they’re supposed to do, sometimes the advice is contradictory and one thing people really struggle with is security fatigue,” said Dr Jessica Barker, co-founder of cyber security firm Cygenta, who also spoke at the event held at the University of Kent in Canterbury.

“They feel like, ‘there are so many hacks out there, there’s so many things happening, I have so many accounts to secure, how am I supposed to manage it?’

“For me, this is one of the biggest arguments in favour of a password manager because when people have 20, 30 more online accounts to secure, trying to tell them to have a unique, secure password for each one, that’s just not humanly possible, whereas a password manager takes away that burden.

“But the attackers are really looking to take advantage of this, if we’re all using weak passwords and we’re re-using them everywhere, then our fatigue over that is an absolute gift.”

- Press Association

More on this topic

Sisters of mercy reimagine music app conceptSisters of mercy reimagine music app concept

Mu-so rekindles love for music and sound qualityMu-so rekindles love for music and sound quality

High performance gives Envy the edgeHigh performance gives Envy the edge

Online payments company Stripe expands to eastern EuropeOnline payments company Stripe expands to eastern Europe

More in this Section

Google is changing how it prioritises news stories in searchGoogle is changing how it prioritises news stories in search

Amazon and Microsoft both confirm events to unveil new devicesAmazon and Microsoft both confirm events to unveil new devices

Ireland's Data Protection Commission working with global partners to counter cyber crimeIreland's Data Protection Commission working with global partners to counter cyber crime

Irish tech experts create smart online protections for precision farmingIrish tech experts create smart online protections for precision farming


Lifestyle

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine advises a 20-something man who isn’t having any luck meeting women in bars and clubs.Ask a counsellor: ‘Neither me or my mates have had a date for years – what are we doing wrong?’

As Aussie beer and cider brand Gayle launches in the UK, Abi Jackson finds out more from co-founder Virginia Buckworth.‘Brewed with love’: How new Aussie brand Gayle is putting ‘gay ale’ on the world drinks map

Frédérique Lecomte uses drama to help child soldiers, as well as other victims and perpetrators in conflict zones, writes Ellie O’Byrne.Healing power of theatre

With two drum kits and three guitars, Thumper really do live up to their name, writes Ellie O’Byrne.Happy to be part of the rock revival

More From The Irish Examiner