NCSC warns 15% of Brits use their pet's name as a password

Independent survey reveals UK public still relies on memorable phrases to protect accounts

A man and his dog using a laptop

The UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned that 15% of the British public are using the names of their pets as their passwords amid a rise in the demand for online services.

The findings revealed that many people in the UK are still reliant on memorable phrases to create passwords, with 13% of those questioned favouring significant dates, and 6% relying on their favourite sports teams.

Around (14%) used the name of a member of their family while 6% admitted to using 'password' as either all or part of their password, the report found.

The NCSC warned that many of these techniques were fundamentally flawed, and created passwords that could be either easily guessed or quickly broken during a brute force attack. For example, a hacker can crack your 'pet-themed' password simply by trying out the most popular animal names.

"We may be a nation of animal lovers, but using your pet's name as a password could make you an easy target for callous cyber criminals," said the NCSC's director for policy and communications, Nicola Hudson.

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"I would urge everybody to visit cyberaware.gov.uk and follow our guidance on setting secure passwords which recommend using passwords made up of three random words."

According to the NCSC survey, 27% of Brits added more than four new password-protected accounts last year, likely the result of a greater reliance on remote technologies and online services during the pandemic.

Last year, Eset security consultant Jake Moore demonstrated how criminals can use social media to hack accounts. In that case, Moore was able to bypass a colleague's security after guessing a password based on a favourite football team and a date of birth, both of which were displayed publicly on his target's social media profile.

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