At least 15 per cent of us have been found to use our pet’s name as a password for online accounts. This follows news of a 20 per cent rise in cyber security threats last year as the world went online during the pandemic – and it’s unlikely this is going to decline any time soon, warn the experts.
According to a recent survey conducted by the National Cyber Security Centre , UK passwords are often made up of things people can easily predict. As well as pet’s names, we use those of family members (14%), significant dates (13%) and favourite sports teams (6%).
So, with 53 million adults in the UK, at least 7.9 million of them will be logging on with the name of a family pet, making them an ideal target for criminals using trial-and-error techniques of common codes.
Sarah Knowles, principal security consultant at Nexor, which works with the UK Government and the armed forces, said: “No one is immune to the threat of cyber attacks.
“We have recently seen cyber criminals imitate the World Health Organisation, the US Centre for Diseases Control and the UK government, by creating false domains and text messages requesting passwords and financial contributions.
An attacker could easily suss out through a bit of digging on social media
“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!”
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.
Top pet names are (in order): Bella, Poppy, Lola, Luna, Alfie Milo and Max.
Top three family names were Oliver, Olivia and George. Top sports names were: Team GB, Paralympic GB and England Women’s National Football Team
Those using TV show names preferred: Only Fools and Horses, Planet Earth and Fawlty Towers.
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