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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
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.

Montgomery attacks ‘predatory’ BBC over local news provision | Business News

The newspaper veteran David Montgomery will on Thursday revive his long-held criticism of the BBC’s encroachment into local news provision when he accuses it of “predatory behaviour” which harms commercial rivals.

Sky News has learnt that Mr Montgomery will use the foreword to the annual results announcement of National World, the London-listed company he runs, to launch a scathing attack on the corporation.

Mr Montgomery, whose company owns titles including The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post, has been a staunch critic of the BBC’s presence in online news, saying in 2019 that its remit needed to be redefined.

On Thursday, he will say that National World has been at “the forefront of the campaigning against predatory behaviour by the BBC which uses taxpayer funds to compete online, threatening local independent journalism”.

“It is remarkable that the BBC, financed by a compulsory tax, is permitted to enforce its monopoly in the news sector month after month,” he will add in remarks which have been obtained by Sky News.

“In January 2024, 3.1 billion page views for BBC News dwarfed the combined total of the UK’s 28 leading independent news sites, including MailOnline, The Sun and, of course, National World.

“In no other sector would such an unfair market be tolerated by regulators.”

Mr Montgomery has been pushing for the News Media Association, an industry body, to take a more robust position against the BBC.

Sky News is among the commercially-owned channels which competes with the BBC in the provision of news across different media platforms.

National World, which has a market value of about £38m, was among the prospective bidders for The Daily Telegraph, holding talks with financial backers before an ill-fated deal was struck with the Abu Dhabi-funded investment vehicle RedBird IMI.

Mr Montgomery wants his company to transition from being a media business with a specific expertise in news journalism, to becoming a broader content provider across media platforms.

The BBC has faced further criticism this week from commercial groups over its plans to broadcast advertising as part of its radio content.

On Wednesday, Tim Davie, the BBC director-general was asked about the organisation’s news strategy, rebutting the suggestion that the Corporation was responsible for the declining commercial provision of local news.

Tim Davie.
Tim Davie. Pic:PA

“I think some of these things are structural, so if you look at the decline of local print… look at the trend lines there,” he told the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

“So I think this is not the BBC causing this issue. And actually, if you look at the amount of journalism we’re producing, it’s often very, very different or in a different level of coverage to others out in the market.”

Police release man arrested over east London crossbow attacks | UK News

A man arrested in connection with two east London crossbow attacks has now been released, police say.

The 47-year-old was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of murder, but police confirmed on Tuesday that he had been released while they continue to investigate the case.

Two people were attacked earlier this month. The first was a 44-year-old woman who was hit in the head while crossing the road by Clifton House in Shoreditch on the evening of 4 March.

The second incident took place on the evening of 14 March, near Arnold Circus, roughly 200m from the first attack, when a 20-year-old man was struck in the neck.

Both victims have been released from hospital, police said on Tuesday.

Detective Chief Superintendent James Conway, who is responsible for policing in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, said the force had been examining CCTV, intelligence and forensic evidence.

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“This remains a complex and ongoing policing operation, and the community will continue to see an enhanced police presence in the area,” he said.

“I’d like to thank local people for their valuable support and would urge anyone still yet to talk to police to do so as soon as possible.”

Wembley will no longer light up to mark terror attacks and social causes | UK News

The Wembley Stadium arch will no longer be lit to show solidarity with countries in the wake of terror attacks and natural disasters.

It follows criticism for not illuminating the landmark in the colours of the Israeli flag after the Hamas atrocities.

The arch will now only light in colours directly linked to the stadium’s use as a sport and entertainment venue, Sky News understands.

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FA branded ‘spineless’ after not lighting arch in Israeli colours

It is understood the arch will also no longer be used to highlight inclusion and diversity campaigns – in recent years, it has been lit in rainbow colours to support LGBTQ+ rights.

This removes the expectation the arch will be lit – and the need for the Football Association to assess sometimes complex geopolitical situations.

The arch could still be lit to mark the deaths of national figures such as a former England player or a monarch, as it was following the death of the Queen last year.

Over the years, the Wembley arch has adopted the colours of the flags of countries including France, Turkey and Ukraine within days of attacks.

But the FA decided not to light it in the blue and white of Israel after the Hamas massacres on a string of kibbutzim close to the Gaza border and a large outdoor music festival on 7 October.

The wave of attacks in southern Israel killed about 1,200 – the deadliest day of attacks against Jewish people since the Holocaust – and approximately 240 hostages were taken into Gaza.

But the unprecedented attack prompted Israel to launch a war to eradicate Hamas – killing thousands in Gaza with concerns about the high number of civilian fatalities.

Read more from Sky News:
Israel and Hamas agree to pause fighting

Actress fired from new Scream movie over Israel-Gaza posts

The Wembley Stadium arch illuminated in support of France after the 2015 Paris attacks Pic: AP
The Wembley Stadium arch illuminated in support of France after the 2015 Paris attacks Pic: AP

Against that backdrop – and an outpouring of pro-Palestinian activism within England and among footballers – the FA opted against a show of solidarity with Israel at Wembley.

Instead, the FA decided on a silence to “remember the innocent victims of the devastating events in Israel and Palestine” ahead of a men’s international last month between England and Australia at Wembley.

The lack of “specific tribute” to Israel led to the resignation of the chair of the FA’s Faith in Football network, Rabbi Alex Goldberg.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “I recognise that our decision caused hurt to the Jewish community who felt that we should have lit the arch and that we should have shown stronger support for them.

“This was one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make, and the last thing we ever wanted to do in this situation was to add to the hurt.

“We aren’t asking for everyone to agree with our decision, but to understand how we reached it.”

The Daily Telegraph first reported that the FA board ratified the new policy, which means the FA cannot be accused of taking sides on conflicts by no longer lighting the arc in relation to geopolitical issues or national tragedies.

The FA will still back causes such as Rainbow Laces even if the arch will not be part of the activism.

Luciana Berger: Watch ‘horrific and brutal’ videos of Hamas attacks in Israel, ex-MP tells public | Politics News

A Jewish former Labour MP, who quit the party in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, has urged people to watch videos of the “horrific and brutal” treatment of Israelis at the hands of Hamas.

Luciana Berger – who left Labour amid the antisemitism row within the party, but re-joined earlier this year – told Sky News’ Politics Hub programme that it was “very, very difficult” to see the unfolding scenes, calling it “the greatest attack on the Jewish community” since the “end of the Holocaust”.

But she encouraged the public to watch the videos coming from the area to see what was happening for themselves.

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“There are so many things that have been put on social media by the Hamas terrorists, the perpetrators of these horrific acts, that people wouldn’t have even seen because they are so brutal,” she told Sophy Ridge. “We can’t broadcast them on our television screens.

“A lot of it is on various social media outlets and I urge people to have a look at how horrific and brutal it is and to see the scenes of people who had gone to… a peaceful music festival.”

Sophy Ridge interview with Luciana Berger
Sophy Ridge interview with Luciana Berger

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How Israel was misled for months

Describing the scene where at least 260 young people were “gunned down” by Hamas militants, Ms Berger added: “That would be equivalent to 2,000 people at Glastonbury being gunned down. I mean, it just doesn’t bear thinking about.”

The ex-MP for Wavertree also warned of the impact closer to home and on the Jewish community in the UK.

“I live in north London,” she said. “Just down the road from where I live last night, a kosher eatery that I go to for my takeaway was vandalised and graffiti was put in the bridge just above it.”

She added: “My children go to Jewish schools and there’s a lot of concern around the safety of whether it’s young Jewish people or people going about the Jewish way of life going to synagogues.”

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Labour holds moment’s silence

Ms Berger also criticised former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who told journalists outside this week’s Labour conference he did not support terrorism but failed to condemn Hamas.

“He is not in any way a representative of the Labour Party when he makes those remarks and those remarks are wrong,” she said. “These are not new remarks. This is not a surprise.

“Jeremy Corbyn is unable to call out Hamas for what it is as a terrorist organisation that has engaged itself in the most brutal and horrific of attacks in the last few days. And shame on Jeremy Corbyn for not calling it out for what it is.”

Calling on people to speak out against antisemitic incidents in the UK, Ms Berger said people should “acknowledge that there can never be any justification for the sheer brutality that we’ve seen”.

American XL bully dogs to be banned after attacks, Rishi Sunak says | UK News

American XL bully dogs are a danger to communities and will banned, Rishi Sunak has said, following a spate of recent attacks.

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Labour attacks ‘abysmal’ figures showing just 5.7% of crimes solved last year | Politics News

Labour has called it a “national scandal” that only 5.7% of crimes were solved last year after 2.3 million cases were dropped without a suspect being found.

The Home Office figure for England and Wales covers the 12 months from April 2022 and is a small improvement on the year before.

The 5.7% represents the proportion of crimes that resulted in a charge or court summons.

For sex offences, the charge rate was 3.6% – and just 2.1% for rape; while only 6.5% of robberies ended with a suspect being charged.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Labour would ensure more crimes are solved if it wins power, as well as making police forces recruit more detectives to reverse a national shortage.

She said candidates would be brought in from sectors such as child protection and business fraud investigations.

Ms Cooper accused the Tories of having an “abysmal” record on law and order as the figures showed more than 90% of crimes were going unsolved.

“For some serious crimes, like rape and robbery, the charge rate is now so low it constitutes a national scandal,” she said.

“For far too long in this country, too many crimes have been committed without any consequences. Victims increasingly feel like no-one comes and nothing is done. Labour is determined this has to change.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said communities were safer than when it came to power 13 years ago, with “neighbourhood crimes including burglary, robbery and theft down 51% and serious violent crime down 46%”.

“The government has delivered more police officers than ever in England and Wales and the home secretary expects police to improve public confidence by getting the basics right – catching more criminals and delivering justice for victims,” said the spokeswoman.

“As part of the Beating Crime Plan, we have also committed to giving every single person in England and Wales access to the police digitally through a national online platform.”

Read more:
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Policing minister Chris Philp claimed Labour were “soft on crime and soft on criminals” and claimed “where Labour are in power, crime is over a third higher than Conservative-run areas”.

“Under the Conservatives, adult rape convictions have increased by two thirds over the last year, dangerous criminals are being locked up for longer, and there are now over 20,000 new police officers helping to keep our streets safe,” said Mr Philp.

Nottingham: Suspect held over attacks that left three people dead is named | UK News

A man suspected of killing three people in a knife rampage in Nottingham has been named.

Valdo Amissão Mendes Calocane, 31, is reported to be the person in custody over the deadly attacks.

Police said on Thursday the suspect had been a student at Nottingham University, where two of the victims were studying.

Officers said they did not think this was connected to the killings.

Grace Kumar, Barnaby Webber and Ian Coates
(L-R) Grace Kumar, Barnaby Webber and Ian Coates were killed in the attacks

Nineteen-year-old University of Nottingham students Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Barnaby Webber were found stabbed to death in Ilkeston Road at around 4am on Tuesday.

Caretaker Ian Coates, 65, was then found dead in Magdala Road after his van was allegedly stolen by the suspect.

Nottinghamshire Police said a man also remains in a serious condition in hospital after the vehicle was driven at him in Milton Street.

The force has referred a further incident to the Independent Office for Police Conduct watchdog after a marked police car followed the van for a short distance before it struck another two pedestrians in Sherwood Street.

Read more:
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Meanwhile, tributes have been paid to the victims of the deadly rampage, which has sent shockwaves through the city.

Medical student Miss O’Malley-Kumar, who played for England under-18s hockey team, was hailed “a truly wonderful young lady” who was “resilient and wise beyond her years”, while the family of history student Mr Webber said the teenager was a “bright young man” who was “a talented and passionate cricketer”.

The sons of Mr Coates, who was four months away from retirement, described the “massive football fan” as a “great father”.

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Nottingham attacks: Families give emotional speeches

At an emotional vigil on Thursday evening, the mother of Mr Webber urged people to “hold no hate” in the wake of the attacks.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman visited Nottingham to pay her respects and lay a wreath with a hand-written message which read: “In memory of those who lost their lives, those who were injured and everyone who loves them.

“We are with you and with all the people of Nottingham.”

Nottingham attacks: Victims’ families tell vigil crowd to ‘hold no hate’ | UK News

The mother of one of the Nottingham attack victims has paid tribute to her “beautiful boy” as thousands gathered for a city centre vigil.

Emma Webber said the killer was a “monstrous individual” but told the crowd: “He is just a person. Please hold no hate that relates to any colour, sex or religion.”

Holding a photo of Barnaby, and with his younger brother next to her, she added: “My beautiful, beautiful boy – you have mine, your dad and your brother’s heart forever.”

Families of victims speak at vigil – as it happened

The sons of school caretaker Ian Coates wore football shirts with “RIP Dad” on the back as they spoke publicly for the first time.

“It feels like he’s touched a lot of hearts over the years, more than what we assumed and knew that he had,” said James Coates.

“So it’s been really nice and heartwarming to see the messages, and people come out and talk about how he was when they were younger and how he’s helped them… some beautiful comments.”

Ian Coates sons during a vigil in Old Market Square

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Ian Coates’s sons pay tribute

Mr Coates described his father as “an avid fisherman who loved his family, and he also loved Nottingham Forest”.

He promised to support the other grieving families – “anything they need from us, we are here for them”, he said.

Grace O’Malley-Kumar’s mother also gave an emotional speech and said her 19-year-old “treasure” was beautiful on the inside as well as the outside.

“She wanted very few things in life, she wanted to be a doctor, she wanted to play hockey with her pals, she wanted to have fun,” said Dr Sinead O’Malley.

“All they were doing was walking home. They were just walking home after a night out,” she added. “This person must face justice. It is truly unfair.”

There was a minute's silence at the vigil in the city centre
There was a minute’s silence at the vigil – and later some applause

Grace Kumar, Barnaby Webber and Ian Coates
Grace O’Malley-Kumar, Barnaby Webber and Ian Coates

Grace’s younger brother, James, described her as like a “best friend” and urged the crowd to “cherish all the moments with your loved ones because you never know when it will end”.

Her father also spoke, fighting back tears at times as he said his family, like the Webbers, had suddenly “become three”.

“Imagine a world of just love and no violence. Just imagine that world,” he added.

Read more:
School caretaker ‘selfless man’ and ‘brilliant bloke’

Timeline of how attacks unfolded

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Grace O’Malley-Kumar’s mother: ‘Say prayers for my baby girl’

There was a minute’s silence in the city’s Old Market Square and – at the request of Barnaby’s mum – a moment of applause.

Tributes were also paid by the headteacher of Mr Coates’s school and the vice-chancellor of Nottingham University.

Meanwhile, police have been given another 36 hours to question the suspect in the attacks and have revealed he used to be a university student in the city.

Detectives are remaining open minded about the motive.

The 31-year-old suspect was tasered and arrested on suspicion of murder after Tuesday morning’s killings.

Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Barnaby Webber, both 19, were found stabbed to death in Ilkeston Road at around 4am.

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Man caught on CCTV trying to enter homeless shelter

Nottingham incident map

Ian Coates, 65, was also found dead from stab wounds in Magdala Road, with his van stolen and used to run people over in Nottingham city centre.

One person was left in a critical condition after that attack.

Video from the same morning also shows a man believed to be the suspect trying to climb into a window of a homeless shelter before being pushed out.

‘Harrowing’ dog attacks on sheep costing farmers millions of pounds a year | UK News

Farmer Oliver East is losing sheep to deadly dog attacks every week.

This winter alone, more than 20 of his sheep have been killed – the last attack only days ago.

Mr East, from Buckinghamshire, told Sky News he discovered one of his ewes dead near a footpath.

“It’s back legs were severely mauled, it had its ears pulled off, and its throat was pulled out,” he said.

“It’s becoming a weekly occurrence, if not twice a week now.”

Not only do these incidents carry an emotional impact, but they also have significant financial implications.

Increasing numbers of deadly dog attacks on livestock are forcing farmers to “change the way they live and farm”, leading rural insurer NFU Mutual has warned, costing the industry millions of pounds a year.

Mr East estimates that with each sheep that is killed, he loses £500.

“If it carries on the way it is going, I am already looking at potentially downsizing my ewe flock, which is already a financial loss to me,” he said.

“I just can’t mentally and physically go through losing this many ewes. It’s mentally debilitating.”

Sheep at a farm in Buckinghamshire
Dog attacks on sheep cost British farmers millions a year

‘Harrowing’ incidents cost industry millions

Even attacks that don’t lead to death can be distressing.

The stress of being chased by dogs can cause death, and can result in pregnant ewes aborting their lambs.

Dog attacks on livestock cost the industry more than a million pounds every year.

Last year, the cost of dog attacks on livestock cost £1.8m, up from £1.3m in 2020, according to NFU Mutual data.

Rebecca Davidson, NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist, told Sky News: “Sadly, we hear harrowing accounts of these types of cases every other day.

“Behind those figures, there’s obviously tremendous concern over for farmers and their livelihoods, also the emotional impact for them.

“Many of them are being forced to change the way they live and farm.”

Read more:
What’s behind rise in deadly dog attacks

Sheep at a farm in Buckinghamshire

‘A lot of irresponsible dog owners’

It’s hoped that changes in legislation will be pivotal in helping improve the situation.

In June 2021, the government announced new measures in its Kept Animals Bill to provide police more powers in protecting livestock from dangerous dogs.

If the legislation is passed, police will be able to seize dogs and have more power to enter premises to find culprits.

Rob Taylor, from the National Police Chiefs’ Council, told Sky News: “There’s a lot of livestock out there, a lot of sheep out there, a lot of dogs out there as well, but there are also a lot of irresponsible dog owners.

“Once we can strengthen that law, I think things will fall in place much better.”

A Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs spokesperson said: “We take the issue of livestock worrying very seriously and recognise the distress this can cause farmers and animals, as well as the financial implications – and the launch of our Action Plan for Animal Welfare will help address this.

“In response to recent reports on the issue, new measures to crack down on livestock worrying in England and Wales will be brought in through the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill.”