We all know that poor passwords are a leading cause of online fraud and data breaches. Hackers devote themselves to learning new and increasingly clever ways to crack passwords, which in many cases weren’t very strong to begin with. Yet, for all of the headlines, warnings, and reminders to use secure passwords, it’s still a problem.
People still use easy-to-guess passwords, write them down on sticky notes and post them in plain sight, and use the same combination of letters and numbers for every single account.
However, even if you have changed your password from “abc123” to something harder to guess, and take care to protect your most valuable login credentials, there is still a good chance that you’re making mistakes with your codes. Unfortunately, using online accounts has become required for everything, even building business relationships as an entrepreneur. The thing is, it’s not just about creating a password that’s hard to guess and keeping it to yourself. If you or your employees are making any of these mistakes, you’re putting your business and all of its data at risk.
1. Not Keeping Passwords Secure
No one is going to argue that it can be tricky to keep all of your passwords secure, especially considering that the average person has 25 accounts that need passwords, and accesses at least eight of those account every day. Simply coming up with 25 different secure codes is challenging enough, never mind remembering them all. The solution for many people, then, is to 1. Write down the passwords on notes and attach them to the computer monitor 2. Maintain a file on the computer with all of the site login information or 3. Keep passwords in the email inbox when a new account sends the information.
Clearly, none of these solutions works. Often, all it takes is for a hacker to access one of your passwords, then he or she can gather enough information to collect even more data, and before you know it, you have a massive breach on your hands. The simplest solution to this problem is a password manager to keep all of your logins secure. Instead of remembering dozens of username and password combinations, you only need to remember the login for the manager. This way, you can use a unique password for every account, without the risks of traditional ways of keeping track of them all.
2. Not Being Strategic With Security Questions
You are a loyal follower of your local football team. You wear the gear, you analyze every game, you do everything possible to show your support. Anyone who knows you, even just a little, knows about your passion. So why would you choose a security question like “What is your favorite sports team?” It’s not going to be hard to figure out. To ensure that your security questions are actually secure, you need to choose questions and answers that aren’t easily guessed. No matter what email service for small business you use, there is one strategy that will definitely work. That strategy is to choose a random word or phrase to use as your answer to any question. There’s little chance that a hacker will guess “Grandma’s Fruitcake” as the answer to “What’s your favorite color?”
3. Sharing Login Details Among Employees
It’s inevitable that your employees may eventually have to share an account at some point; for example, if you subscribe to a particular service that everyone uses. However, even though it might save time or money, avoid assigning the same login credentials to everyone. When everyone’s on the same account, it’s difficult to monitor for unauthorized access, and if someone leaves or needs to be restricted for any reason, it’s easier to remove a single account than restricting access from everyone.
4. Focusing on the “Meaning” of Passwords
Many people believe that in order to remember their passwords, their passwords must be “meaningful.” In other words, it’s easier to remember “Iw2NHSin05” — code for “I went to North High School in ‘05” than it is to remember a random combination of letters and numbers. The ease of remembering the names of your children or pets, the street where you live, or other common passwords is another reason that people choose such easily cracked codes.
Passwords to Avoid
Here are some of the worst passwords of recent years that absolutely must be avoided. If you follow the tips outlined above, you should have no problem doing so.
First off, it is hard to believe that people still use password as a password after all this time. But many still do, unfortunately. Notice what they all have in common. None of the worst passwords of all time mentioned above follow any of the suggestions we just made. Use the advice given in this post, and you are sure to have a secure password. Maybe one of the best passwords, if you are really careful. You will not regret using our tips.
However, studies show that a password doesn’t have to be meaningful to be memorable. In fact, it’s often just as easy to remember a nonsensical combination like “Fuzzyeggs456” as it is to remember your cat’s name. Don’t limit yourself to words that make sense — and again, a password manager can help you keep track.
Keeping your passwords strong and secure is the best way to prevent a serious data breach. By changing how you approach the creation and storage of your passwords, you can keep your business safe, and avoid some of the hassles that come with managing passwords.