Better ‘password hygiene’ urged for safest way to protect yourself online

Attempts by cybercriminals to sell password credentials of British MPs is a timely reminder that ‘password hygiene’ is the safest way to protect yourself online, a leading cybersecurity expert has warned.

CEO of Cork-based Smarttech, Ronan Murphy said the cyberattack on the House of Commons on Saturday likely emanated from a stolen database on the ‘dark web’, where login credentials for MPs and police officers had recently been up for sale.

Mr Murphy, a former chair of Cork’s voluntary tech movement IT@Cork, said the best practice for keeping cybercriminals at bay was recycling passwords regularly.

“I would say 99% of all successful cyber attacks come from poor password and patching hygiene.

“You should change your passwords regularly, mix them up and also make sure to keep updating security patches on your computers. It really is that simple.

“It’s like burglars coming to your home thinking they have to break open a back window and finding you’ve actually left the key in the front door,” he said.

The UK parliament was hit by a “sustained and determined” cyber attack on Saturday designed to identify weak email passwords, just over a month after a ransomware worm crippled parts of the country’s health service. The House of Commons said it was confident it had protected all accounts and systems.

An email sent by parliamentary authorities to those people affected said: “Closer investigation by our team confirmed that hackers were carrying out a sustained and determined attack on all parliamentary user accounts in an attempt to identify weak passwords.”

The National Health Service was hit by a massive global ransomware ‘worm’ in May which crippled the computer system and forced some hospitals to turn away patients. International trade minister Liam Fox said the attack was not a surprise and should act as a warning to people across the country to the threat posed by cyber hackers.

“We know our public services are attacked so it’s not at all surprising that there should be an attempt to hack into parliamentary emails.” n Additional reporting Reuters


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