Stop using your pet's name as a password

dog helping owner work on PC
(Image credit: / Chendongshan)

UK consumers are putting themselves at risk of cyberattack by using weak passwords such as their pet's name.

A warning from National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said 15% of the population used a pet's name as part of or as a password, 14% use the name of a family member, and 13% choose a notable date.

The NCSC even found that 6% of people are still using "password" as some form of login, with a similar amount using "123456", with favourtie sports teams and TV shows also a popular choice.

Strong and secure

The figures, released by the NCSC ahead of National Pet Day, look to highlight the poor job many of us still do when creating passwords for online accounts.

“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," noted NCSC Director for Policy and Communications, Nicola Hudson.

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

Instead of pet names, the NCSC is recommending creating passwords made of three random words to ensure higher levels of security - especially if the words have no relation to each other.

The organisation also found that 27% of Brits said they now have at least four more new password-protected accounts than this time last year – with 6% adding more than 10 new accounts in the last 12 months.

The temptation to re-use passwords across multiple accounts is strong, but the NCSC recommends having sepearate password for each accounts - and if this proves too tricky to remember, using a password manager to make sure no details get lost.

For anyone still unsure of the best steps to take in creating tough passwords, the NCSC is offering its Cyber Action Plan tool to generate tailored, free of charge advice to improve your security against online attacks.

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.