Personal Small Business Enterprise

Tips for Picking a Good Password

We need passwords for everything digital in our lives. Phones, computers, bank accounts, social media profiles, the list goes on. And when it comes to businesses, passwords are especially critical. They serve as a needed barrier between your company’s sensitive data and potential thievery.

And of course, we’re all already using sophisticated passwords to protect our business data, right? Wrong. In a recent test involving 16,000 hashed passwords, top crackers were able to solve 90% of them in less than a day. Needless to say, this is a problem, but we’d like to help you solve it.

To ensure you’ve got a greater level of protection in place, we’ve put together some helpful tips for you to keep in mind when selecting passwords:

Change the password frequently: It can be difficult to come up with a unique password that’s easily remembered. But it’s worthwhile to change it at least once every few months. Try not to recycle passwords either, as the pattern could be quickly realized and cracked.

Use complex passwords: Using common words or number sequences like “star wars” or “123456” is a strict no-no. In fact, you should avoid using any words that can be found in the dictionary, and you should also steer clear of using any combination of words that includes personal information like your address (“123sesamestreet.”) Instead, use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters that allow for infinite possible combinations. For example, instead of a password like “myfibeisgreat,” try a variation like “myF1beisgr8!” Some services now require such combinations in order for a password to be accepted.

Keep them long: The suggestion has typically been to create a password that’s at least eight characters in length. But given the recent number of data breaches, along with rapidly evolving technology, many sources say even that’s not long enough. Instead, they suggest using passwords as long as 12 or 16 characters. And as a general rule of thumb, the longer a password is, the better it is, so use as many characters as you can comfortably remember.

Don’t use the same password everywhere: One password is far easier to remember than 10. But it’s important that passwords are unique for different programs and services to avoid a single access point leading to all. Try using a form of association between password and service that only you would understand to make remembering each one easier.

Avoid writing them down: It’s tempting to have a file or folder that contains a reminder list of all your passwords, but this is a gold mine for anyone who gets a hold of it. The best, safest, place to keep your passwords is in your head.

Add encryption: It’s sensible to ensure that as passwords are entered and sent through the system, there are the proper security protocols in place to make sure they are encrypted, i.e. turned into nonsense characters that can’t easily be recognized.

Don’t save a password in your browser: It’s tempting to save a password in your browser’s memory so you can log in and out with ease. But it also screams for hackers to come in and take a peak.

The bottom line
We may eventually reach a time when the concept of the text-based password is abolished completely; indeed companies are already working on replacements that range from voice recognition to fingerprint readers and even heart rhythm monitors. But we still have a ways to go. And passwords will be around for some time to come, so be sure to use the tips above to help safeguard your passwords.

When was the last time you briefed employees on creating and maintaining unique and secure passwords for accessing company accounts? Are you using secure passwords? Let us know via the comments section below.

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