UK law enforcement has contributed 225 million unique passwords to a cyber-security programme that helps users avoid being hacked.
The cyber security programme, Have I Been Pwned (HIBP) is a free internet service that allows anyone to trawl a database of compromised logins to determine if theirs have been hacked.
The specific organisation contributing these passwords is the National Crime Agency (NCA), who recently came upon a sizeable amount of email addresses and passwords stolen by cyber criminals.
Chris Lewis-Evans, Infrastructure Investigations Manager at NCA, called this the "largest set of email and password pairs the organisation has ever recovered".
Not only does this highlight the escalating risk people face of having their passwords compromised online... but also the extent to which many can be completely unaware it happened.
Services like HIBP help people in the UK, and across the world, fight back against cyber criminals by getting more informed. Many of the logins provided by the NCA were exposed in a breach, or stolen by criminals, with their owners completely unaware.
This lack of awareness is critical, as a compromised login is a lot less valuable when the owner of the account knows it's been compromised. They can change their login, secure the account, and then the password becomes less valuable on the black market.
When it comes to all facets of cyber security, awareness is key. Awareness of the behaviour of cyber criminals, and of your own behaviour. Passwords are a major point of vulnerability when it comes to security, and too many users have poor habits that make them easy targets.
Like using their pet's name as their password or recycling passwords across multiple logins. Easy to crack logins like these, leave the proverbial window open to hackers, as passwords remain a primary form of account defence.
Developing healthy password habits, something the NCA and HIBP heavily promote, is critical for all users. If you want a quick and easy introduction to doing this, we recommend you take our quick 2 minute quiz that will tell you how healthy your password habits really are.
You can also visit our wider site, where we have plenty of advice on how to boost your security.