Password Tips to Protect Your Data
As cyber attacks seem to become increasingly more prevalent, far-reaching and long-lasting in their damage, it’s more important than ever that you and your employees do everything possible to protect your company’s data. One often overlooked way to keep sensitive information safe is paying extra attention to password security.
Passwords are valued currency in the Digital Age, and using strong passwords to prevent unauthorized access is a necessity,” says Stacy King, executive director of the Federal Bar Association. “The ability to transfer customer data, client files, medical records, employee files, financial records and other valuable and sensitive information has presented a new world of legal risks.”
So, are you doing what you can to protect yourself and your business?
Password should be unique and interesting.
The tendency to simplify your passwords and repeat them makes them prone to attack. If you’re going to have a security system, you want it to work, right? Effective passwords are sufficiently long (8 or more characters) and combine upper and lowercase letters along with numbers and symbols.
Use Lengthy Passwords
Length can exponentially increase the security of your password. A strong password should be at least eight characters, with 12 to 14 being a recommended standard. Be sure to use a mix of alphanumeric characters and symbols, along with capitalization.
Do not repeat your Password.
Do not use the same password for more than one site. If you do, when one password is stolen it can be used to compromise more than one account. Think of a system that makes sense to you, but is not easily guessed by others, to vary your passwords.
Protect your password.
If you must write down your password, don’t save it electronically. If your computer is hacked, then you’ve just given the criminal access to all your accounts when he stumbles on your “my passwords” document. Store any written passwords in a secure location, like a safe.
Employ two-factor or multi-factor authentication.
Adding an extra step to your log-in credentials bolsters your protection. It might be a fingerprint, a pin sent to your phone, or a security question you need to answer. Stolen credentials may become useless to a thief if you have this extra layer of protection. Check your account settings and add MFA if it’s available.
Avoid the Automatic Login Feature.
It might save you time and frustration, but automatic, saved login information, including passwords, may make it more likely that your company could be hacked, says Michael Bruemmer, vice president of identity protection at Experian. (So, you may want to avoid using the “remember password” feature.)
Watch what you share online.
Giving the world insight into your personal life on social media or elsewhere can make passwords and answers to security questions easier to guess. It also gives cybercriminals information to launch effective spear phishing attacks. Oversharing equals more exposure to cybercrime.
Change your password.
The thinking on the value of regular changes to passwords has evolved. You should change your password if you are going to strengthen it, but changing it too often may result in weaker passwords or repeat passwords if your creativity and patience runs short. Of course, if there’s an event that suggests your password may have been compromised, by all means, change it.