Brute force password attacks were reportedly the cause of the iCloud photo hack on celebrity accounts in 2014

Simplistic passwords blamed for rise in cyber attacks

Computer users are compromising their own cyber-security with simplistic passwords that are easy to guess according to password management firm SplashData.

The firm analysed lists of stolen passwords that appeared online which showed that the most popular was ‘123456’ followed by ‘password’.

The top five passwords, which also included ‘12345678’, ‘12345’ and ‘qwerty’ were labelled by security experts as ‘dangerous’ who also believed they were partly responsible for the high frequency of cyber attacks.

Brian Spector, from digital security firm Miracl, said: "These are surely some of the easiest passwords to crack, even for the ordinary kid trying to get into their sibling's Facebook account. A professional cyber criminal would simply laugh at them."

Users were also warned not to use the same password across multiple accounts and to ensure they contained a mix of numbers, letters and alphanumeric characters.

Richard Cassidy of Cloud security provider Alert Logic said that cyber criminals can access botnets, networks of computers infected with malicious software, to crack encrypted files or password protected data.

They also make use of underground ‘cracking rigs’ that use the processors found in GPU’s to attempt billions of combinations per second.

“This means your average 8 character password (mandated by many online systems today) can be cracked in days,” said Cassidy.

“A great deal of research has gone into the minimum password length recommended; all users should be choosing passwords of at least 12 characters (alphanumeric with special characters) that are completely random and that would challenge even the most sophisticated decryption rigs for service out there on the cyber-criminal underground.”

Brute force password attacks were reportedly the cause of the iCloud photo hack in 2014, when celebrities including actress Jennifer Lawrence saw images from their accounts posted online.

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