The National Cyber Security (NCSC) has published its ‘UK cyber survey’ and has revealed the most hackable passwords that people are still using today.

The National Cyber Security Centre is GCHQ’s cyber-defence arm, and among its study findings were that 42 percent of Brits expect to lose money to online fraud.

Earlier this month the NCSC warned of Huawei’s “very, very shoddy” security engineering and said this “poor engineering” could lead to the gear being banned from Westminster and other sensitive areas.

Online protection

Alarmingly, the NCSC study found that many British internet users still did not know the best ways to protect themselves from cybercrime.

It uncovered a number of interesting findings.

Only 15 percent of respondents said they know a great deal about how to protect themselves from harmful activity.

Most respondents were concerned about having money stolen online, with 42 percent feeling it likely to happen by 2021.

This comes after 89 percent said they use the internet to make online purchases – with 39 percent on a weekly basis.

One in three people said they rely to some extent on friends and family for help on cyber security.

The study also found that young people more likely to be privacy conscious and careful of what details they share online.

And our tech addiction shows no sign of slowing, with 61 percent of internet users check social media daily, but 21 percent report they never look at social media.

The good news is that the study also found that 70 percent always use PINs and passwords to secure their smart phones and tablets, but worryingly less than half do not always use a strong, separate password for their main email account.

Password madness

And it is clear that passwords still remain a huge security weakness for many people, after the NCSC published separate analysis of the 100,000 most commonly re-occurring passwords that have been accessed by third parties in global cyber breaches.

The list was created after breached usernames and passwords were collected and published on Have I Been Pwned by international web security expert Troy Hunt.

So what are the most regularly used passwords that are breached?

Well unbelievably people are still using very easy to guess passwords, with the top ranking passwords used being names of football teams (i.e liverpool), musicians (blink182), and fictional characters (superman).

But 23.2 million people still use “123456” as their password. 7.7 million people use “123456789” and 3.6 million people use “password” as their password.

“We understand that cyber security can feel daunting to a lot of people, but the NCSC has published lots of easily applicable advice to make you much less vulnerable,” said Dr Ian Levy, NCSC Technical Director.

“Password re-use is a major risk that can be avoided – nobody should protect sensitive data with something that can be guessed, like their first name, local football team or favourite band,” Dr Levy said.

“Using hard-to-guess passwords is a strong first step and we recommend combining three random but memorable words,” he added. “Be creative and use words memorable to you, so people can’t guess your password.”

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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