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Weak passwords are making Townsville businesses vulnerable to hackers

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Weak passwords are putting too many North Queensland businesses at risk according to a Townsville cyber security expert.

National PC’s Leigh Kefford says passwords like ‘123456’ and even ‘password’ itself are among the most popular and easily cracked.

“When cyber criminals are trying to break into a business’s systems, the first thing they will try are thousands of obvious passwords,” he says.

“They use clever automated software to do this for them.”

“So, it only takes one of your staff to use a weak password, and your entire system is wide open to any hacker.”

Research by tech firm SplashData, which examined millions of passwords leaked by hackers found “iloveyou’, ‘111111’ and ‘123123’ were among the top 10 most common passwords in 2021.

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Mr Kefford warns there are certain things to avoid when creating a new password.

“Using date of birth, year that you were born, any of those things that potential social engineering attacks can actually grab the data from, can be used against you.”

“Using passwords that are not related to you at all is the recommendation.”

He says the biggest risk from using a weak password is ransomware.

“This is where your data is encrypted until you pay a ransom fee.”

“It’s terrifying to see, and very hard to undo once an attack has launched.”

He says small businesses are the most vulnerable and is suggesting owners use a password manager for all staff.

“This will generate long random passwords and remember them.”

A two factor authentication system is also recommended.