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Cyber security specialists Intelligencia Training have issued a warning about the dangers of weak passwords following the recent cyber attack on the Houses of Parliament. Intelligencia Training, which utilises the ‘Cyber Stars’ initiative to raise cyber-security awareness within organisations large and small to help prevent breaches, says that organisations must do more to prevent the use of easily-deciphered passwords that allow hackers to breach systems.
The warning came after Parliament was hit by a cyber-security attack in which the hackers searched systems for weak passwords to hack into systems used by MPs, Peers and their staff. The attack followed reports that passwords for MPs and officials were being sold online by hackers. According to Intelligencia Training, there are many programmes that attempt to determine passwords, both by guessing common ones and by randomly generating possibilities.
The best defence, says the company, is a strong password that is complex and, therefore, difficult to guess. To achieve that, users must:
- Create a password that is 8 characters or longer, using a combination of upper and lower case letters, and include at least one number and/or special character (&, ?, @, etc.), punctuation, and spaces
- Not base their password on personal information that someone who knows them may be able to guess
- Not use their user ID or name/department name as their password
- Not use their business ID and password for access to third-party systems such as online shopping, newspapers and travel websites
- Make sure they always log out of programmes or websites and close browsers when they have finished working with them, especially on public computers
- Use different passwords for different systems, reducing the damage should a password fall into the wrong hand
- Memorise their password rather than writing it down and change their password if they think that someone else has seen i
- Not share their password with others
Nick Atkinson, Commercial Director of Intelligencia Training, said: “The recent incident concerning Parliament shows that every organisation is vulnerable to cyber attack.
“Ninety per cent of major organisations have suffered a cyber breach and smaller organisations are similarly at risk yet there is so much that they can do to minimise the risk. Creating robust passwords is a good start.”
The Cyber Stars programme, which has been designed and developed by cyber security experts, is an on-site one day course which gives an organisation understanding of cyber security to enable it to operate safely online. Intelligencia Training is already working to improve cyber security at many large organisations, including financial institutions and local authorities.