Combined, the two passwords allowed the personal accounts of over half a million Britons to be breached over the last year, with hackers often selling or sharing compromised access words.
Incredibly, the use of ‘123456’ and ‘password’ as security words was still widespread, according to the annual review of cyber security by GCHQ’s public-facing department.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) report for 2019 also said that whilst most Britons expect to be a victim of cyber crime, only a third say they know how to protect themselves against being hacked.
Ciaran Martin, Chief Executive of the NCSC, said the department had defended the UK against more than 600 cyber attacks in the past year alone, many from hostile states, bringing the total number to almost 1,800 since 2016 when the centre was formed.
“We are employing our expertise on a number of fronts,” he said. “This Review gives a real insight into the breadth of outstanding work done by the NCSC.”
Also see: Strong Passwords Matter
The report said results from the first ever UK Cyber Survey, had revealed most people feared loss of money as a result of cyber crime to be not only their biggest worry, but also the most likely form of online attack they expected to endure.
A third of the public said they also had significant concerns over hackers accessing photos or other personal information and feared applications such as Uber, Deliveroo and Instagram could be accessed without their consent. These sorts of concerns are real and need to be addressed.
Minister for the Cabinet Office Oliver Dowden said: “We’ve made great progress on making the UK safer since launching our world-leading £1.9 billion cyber security strategy in 2015.
“Establishing the NCSC was a key part of this and has played a central role in tackling online threats posed by criminals, hacktivists and hostile nation states.”