The surnames of at least six Gothenburg Greats and the man who led them to victory could be putting Aberdonians and their employers at risk of a cyber attack.

That is the stark warning from north-east IT company Converged Communication Solutions which has discovered the names on a list of 100,000 passwords most commonly found in data breaches.  The list was recently released by the National Cyber Security Centre, the UK’s independent authority on cyber security, to encourage people to improve their online security.

Featuring on the list alongside ‘Red Army’, ‘Aberdeen’ and ‘Aberdeen1’, are ‘Black’, ‘Hewitt’, ‘Leighton’, ‘Miller’, ‘Cooper’, ‘Simpson’ and ‘Ferguson’, ‘Ferguson1’ and ‘Fergie’.  The date of the Dons’ 1983 triumph over Real Madrid also makes the list, as does the name of the man who scored Real Madrid’s only goal on the night, Juanito.

Converged is highlighting its findings from the list to advise people living in Aberdeen and north-east Scotland that they could be putting themselves at risk by using weak passwords to access online accounts.

The revelations come ahead of Converged hosting a free IT workshop in Aberdeen next week.  It is inviting businesses, charities and organisations to attend the workshop to learn how strong passwords can provide a first line of defence against cyber attacks and what other steps they can take to better protect themselves and their organisations online.

Taking place on the morning of Thursday, 20 June at the Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) Marischal Square offices, the workshop is being held in partnership with RBS and CeeD, the Centre for Engineering Education and Development.  CeeD is a national group of businesses and academics focused on improving operational efficiency in business.

The session will be led by Gerry Grant, chief security officer at Converged and one of Scotland’s leading cyber security experts.  He will be joined by Robbie Ross, cyber security prevention and resilience officer with Police Scotland, who will provide practical tips on staying safe online.

Attendees will learn about the main cyber threats that organisations of all sizes currently face, including phishing, ransomware attacks and insider threats, which can include unintentional threats that create opportunities which hackers can exploit.  The cyber security experts will advise delegates on ways to mitigate risks by using more secure processes and procedures.  This will include the technical – relating to hardware and software – and non-technical steps that organisations can implement quickly in order to improve cyber security.

Those attending next Thursday’s workshop will also be introduced to the UK government-backed Cyber Essentials programme, for which Converged is a Certification Body.  The scheme is designed to protect organisations from a range of common online threats and illustrates their commitment to cyber security.

Gerry Grant, chief security officer at Converged, said: “Basic passwords that are simply a surname can pose a massive risk to organisations of all sizes.  They can be the chink in an organisation’s cyber security defence that can let someone with malicious intent access their computer systems.  Any individual, business or charity can be a potential target for a cyber attack and it is important we all understand the threats we currently face and how we can go about protecting ourselves.

“Creating strong passwords is a good first line of defence.  Combining three random words to build a passphrase can help to improve cyber security.  Evidence suggests ineffective passwords can put whole livelihoods at risk.  At our free workshop in Aberdeen we will provide attendees with a better knowledge and understanding of cyber threats and equip them with simple steps they can take to make their business or organisation more digitally secure.”

Register your free place at the cyber security workshop.

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