Cyber experts at the National Cyber Security Centre have urged people to follow best practice by making passwords with three random words, after revealing 15% of British people use their pet’s name to protect accounts.

Results of independent polling on behalf of the NCSC, a part of GCHQ, discovered passwords are often made up of things people can easily predict – such as their pet’s names (15%), family members’ names (14%), a significant date (13%), or their favourite sports team (6%).

Some 6% of the UK admitted using ‘password’ as all or part of their password – meaning millions of accounts could be easily breached by criminals using trial-and-error techniques of common codes.

The cross-government Cyber Aware campaign recommends using passwords made up of three random words.

NCSC Director for Policy and Communications, Nicola Hudson, said: “We may be a nation of animal lovers, but using your pet’s name as a password could make you an easy target for callous cybercriminals.

“I would urge everybody to visit and follow our guidance on setting secure passwords which recommend using passwords made up of three random words.

“You can even use our Cyber Action Plan tool to generate tailored, free of charge advice to improve your security against online attacks.”