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‘Admin’ and ‘12345’ banned from being used as passwords in UK crackdown on cyber attacks | Science & Tech News

Common and easily guessed passwords like ‘admin’ or ‘12345’ are being banned in the UK as part of world-first laws to protect against cyber attacks.

As well as default passwords, if a user suggests a common password they will be prompted to change it on creation of a new account.

It comes as a home filled with smart devices could be exposed to more than 12,000 hacking attacks from across the world in a single week, with 2,684 attempts to guess weak passwords on five devices, according to an investigation by Which?

Password managing website NordPass found the most commonly used passwords in the UK last year were 123456 and, believe it or not, password.

The new measures come into force in the UK on Monday, making it the first country in the world to introduce the laws.

Pic: iStock
Image:
Smart devices could be exposed to more than 12,000 hacking attacks from across the world in a single week. Pic: iStock

They are part of the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure (PSTI) regime – designed to improve the UK’s resilience from cyber attacks and ensure malign interference does not impact the wider UK and global economy.

Under the law, manufacturers of all internet-connected devices – from mobile phones, smart doorbells and even high-tech fridges – will be required to implement minimum security standards.

They will also have to publish contact details so bugs and issues can be reported and resolved and tell consumers the minimum time they can expect to receive important security updates.

UK’s 10 most commonly used passwords in 2023

  • 123456
  • password
  • qwerty
  • liverpool
  • 123456789
  • arsenal
  • 12345678
  • 12345
  • abc123
  • chelsea

“As everyday life becomes increasingly dependent on connected devices, the threats generated by the internet multiply and become even greater,” Science and Technology Minister Viscount Camrose said.

“From today, consumers will have greater peace of mind that their smart devices are protected from cyber criminals… We are committed to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online and these new regulations mark a significant leap towards a more secure digital world.”

According to recent figures, 99% of UK adults own at least one smart device and UK households own an average of nine connected devices.

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A further 57% of households own a smart TV, 53% own a voice assistant and 49% own a smart watch or fitness wristband.

Copper Horse – a company that provides mobile phone software and security expertise to a range of customers – flagged products with webcams as “weak and insecure” and are “trivial to hack into and takeover”.

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The new measures intend to increase consumer confidence in the security of the products they use and buy.

It is part of the government’s £2.6bn National Cyber Strategy to protect and promote the UK online.

Students set to collect A-level results as courses available through clearing drop after ‘admin blip’ | UK News

Hundreds of thousands of students will get their A-level results today across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, in the first exams held since before the COVID pandemic.

Grades are expected to go down overall compared with last year, but should be higher than in 2019.

The summer exams were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic and students were awarded grades decided by teachers.

This year’s race for university places is expected to be one of the most competitive yet, with almost 40% of students thought likely to make use of the clearing system to find a place on a course.

Admissions service Ucas acknowledged that universities have been more cautious in their offer-making.

It added that while it expects record or near-record numbers of students to get onto their first-choice courses, the process will not be “pain-free” for all, with some students left disappointed.

While some schools and colleges ask students to collect their results in person, others will publish the results online.

The Department for Education said record numbers of students, including high numbers of disadvantaged students, are still expected to start university in September.

The Association of Colleges Chief Executive David Hughes said the class of 2022 faced “unprecedented disruption to their education”, while Education Secretary James Cleverly said every student collecting their results should be proud.

Courses for clearing drop after ‘admin blip’

Students who miss out on their first choices for university have been urged not to panic and instead turn to teachers for advice and support.

However, the number of courses for students in clearing dropped ahead of results day, with one university blaming an “administrative blip”, for showing more than 500 as available when they shouldn’t have been.

Students can use clearing to see what courses or universities might be available to them if they need an alternative plan.

As of Wednesday morning, a PA news agency snapshot of the UK’s largest higher education providers showed there were 22,685 courses with vacancies for students living in England, down from 23,280 on Friday.

Read more:
A-levels and GCSE’s – here’s what’s changing with exams
Topics for A-level and GCSE exams published ahead of time

The University of Liverpool had shown 529 courses as available in clearing on the Ucas website last week but it is understood this should not have been the case and was an “administrative blip”.

A spokeswoman for the university said clearing at its university will be for “a small number of high-quality candidates in a range of subjects”.

They added: “The Ucas clearing pages were live for a period of time for pre-qualified applicants, as is the case each year. We removed the pages while we determine which courses are available in advance of results day tomorrow, when we will advertise any vacancies.”

The change saw options at the Russell Group universities – of which Liverpool University is a member – dwindle compared to last week, with 1,785 courses at 15 of the 24 elite institutions as of Wednesday morning, compared with 2,358 courses at 17 of them on Friday.

Last year it was announced that A-level students sitting exams this summer would find out what topics they would be tested on to help them prepare.