World Password Day aims to spread awareness around the importance and effectiveness of passwords and how they assist in ensuring we remain safe online. Marking this day will remind NICS staff of the need to implement strong, memorable passwords both in the workplace and at home.

Why do we need passwords and why are they so important?

Passwords are one of the most common ways used to authenticate someone’s identity when they are using a device or accessing online services. Passwords are commonly the first step in proving your identity and can be used with other factors of identification such as bio-metric identification, a PIN code or a set of memorable information.

Use strong passwords

Weak passwords can be hacked in seconds. The longer and more unusual your password is, the stronger it becomes and the harder it is to hack. The best approach is to to make your password long and difficult to hack by using a sequence of three random words you'll remember. You can make it even stronger by including special characters, numbers and capital letters.

NICS password health

As part of the recent review the security of ITAssist services, DSS Cyber Security carried out an assessment of the strength of NICS passwords held on the NIGOV domain. The analysis found:

Of the total of 20,637 NICS passwords examined, 54% were obtained within 1 minute, with a further 29% being obtained within 24 hours.

It is evident that current passwords in use within the NIGOV domain (and likely across other similar areas) are weak, tend to fall into predictable patterns and are very vulnerable to password attacks.

In order to address this weakness, the NICS Information Governance Board have approved the enforcement of a minimum password length of 12 characters and the automatic prevention of selecting known compromised passwords. This password change will be rolled out across the NICS in the coming months and further communication will issue in due course.

Personal accounts

The NI Cyber Security Centre has advice on passwords for your personal accounts.

Resources

For further reliable information, guidance and support on passwords, please use the trusted resources listed below.

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