Let’s talk about passwords.
While necessary for our digital security, they remain without a doubt one of the most annoying parts of our digital lives both at work and at home, especially since we all have dozens of passwords to remember and the number seems like it’s always growing.
Whether you’re a business owner looking to protect your company’s data, or an everyday Joe or Jane trying to keep track of how to access all the places you log in every day, read on for some helpful tips about what you should and shouldn’t do in regard to your passwords, and how to keep yourself secure and sane at the same time.
What not to do
- This is just common sense, but never set your password as ‘password’. You’re literally inviting cybercriminals to target your finances and identity with this strategy, and far too many people do it.
- Avoid using your business name, your dog’s name, your child’s name, your date of birth or any information that a stranger could easily find online and guess you would use for a password.
- If you must write down your passwords, don’t leave the written record of them anywhere others can easily access them. (Take that sticky note off your computer.)
- Don’t use one password on all of your accounts. If you’re breached once, you’re breached everywhere, which would be very bad news.
What you should do
- Longer passwords are safer, preferably a minimum of 10 characters long. But don’t make it too long so that you won’t remember it off the top of your head.
- Vary up the lettering. Include lower-case letters, upper-case letters, symbols and numbers. For example, “happydog” might be guessed, but “h@PPydog34357482!!!” is much more secure.
- If you’re not good with memorizing passwords, one of the best alternatives is to use a properly encrypted password manager program (such as 1Password or Dashlane) that will take care of remembering for you.
- Passwords should be changed on a regular basis, at least every few months, to increase security.
Tips for businesses
Beyond any direct financial impact, a cyberattack can be very damaging to a business’ reputation and have major impact long-term. Strong passwords are among the easiest way to prevent this.
Passwords are something businesses need to be especially careful of, particularly when employees are coming and going. It’s easy to forget in the hustle and bustle, but as employees leave make sure they no longer have access to your systems.
The reality is that many businesses aren’t even aware that former employees still can access their systems after leaving or being fired from a job.
And for the folks who are still employed, solutions are available that you can offer to allow employees to reset their passwords automatically without asking the IT department for help. This is a huge time-saver, especially with many passwords requiring regular resets.
Kelly Siegel is CEO of National Technology Management (NTM), 30400 Telegraph Road, Suite 116, in Bingham Farms. He has been in the IT consulting business for 21 years and saved businesses millions of dollars by streamlining their technology systems. NTM can be reached at 248-658-0829, and Siegel can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.