Aberdonians could be putting themselves and their employers at great risk of cyber attacks due to a lackadaisical choice of passwords, research from an Aberdeen-based IT support company has found.
Converged Communications Solutions found that the surnames of at least six footballers who played in Aberdeen’s 1983 Cup Winners’ Cup side are among the most popular passwords in the region.
Some of the surnames used as passwords by Dons fans include Black, Hewitt, Leighton, Miller, Cooper, Simpson and Ferguson. ‘Fergie’, ‘Red Army’ and the date of the club’s triumph over Real Madrid also makes the list, Converge found, while the name of the man who scored Real Madrid’s only goal on the night, Juanito, is also a popular choice.
The firm has issued a stark warning over the use of such passwords after they were discovered to be on a list of 100,000 codes most commonly found in data breaches. The list was recently published by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in an attempt to encourage people to improve their online security.
Converged has highlighted its findings from the list so as to raise awareness of basic cybersecurity practices for people living in Aberdeen and the north east of Scotland.
- What sets Scotland apart during the tech sector jobs boom?
- Scottish Edge Round 14 winners announced
- Do robots create more jobs than they replace?
Gerry Grant, Chief Security Officer at Converged, said that poor passwords are placing people and organisations across the country at risk and often represent ‘the chink’ in an organisation’s cybersecurity defences.
“Basic passwords that are simply a surname can pose a massive risk to organisations of all sizes,” he said. “They can be the chink in an organisation’s cybersecurity defence that can let someone with malicious intent access their computer systems.
“Any individual, business or charity can be a potential target for a cyber attack and it is important we all understand the threats we currently face and how we can go about protecting ourselves. Creating strong passwords is a good first line of defence,” Grant added.
In order to build a better password and improve security, Grant recommends combining three random words to build a passphrase. To help raise awareness of growing cybersecurity threats, Converged also announced it will host a free IT workshop in Aberdeen next week.
Converged said businesses, charities and organisations are welcome to attend the workshop, which will provide information on how to create strong passwords and develop a solid culture of cyber awareness and cyber hygiene. Attendees will learn about the main cyber threats that organisations currently face in 2019, including phishing, ransomware attacks and insider threats – which can include unintentional threats that create opportunities which hackers then exploit.
The workshop will be led by Grant alongside Robbie Ross, a cybersecurity prevention and resilience officer at Police Scotland, who will provide practical advice on how to stay safe while operating online.