London-based IT support and technology consultants, Netstar, explain two simple ways to keep your passwords safe. Read on to discover how password managers and multi-factor authentication will help to protect your business.
On average, people use passwords to login to different accounts eight times a day. That’s a lot of passwords being used every week, month and year! It’s also a lot of information to remember and lots of data to worry about keeping secure.
To combat this stress, people often resort to using the same password for every account, from online shopping accounts, to work logins and social media platforms. In doing this, you are putting yourself at tremendous risk. If cyber criminals gain access to one account, they can then access all of your accounts and easily steal your data or commit identity fraud.
Equally, others tend to use strong passwords for some accounts, such as online banking. But then use weak passwords for seemingly less valuable accounts such as gym memberships or loyalty cards. This is also unsafe! All passwords should be treated equally to ensure that your data is secure, and having strong complicated passwords is crucial.
How Can Hackers Gain Access to My Passwords?
For many cyber criminals, hacking systems and illegally acquiring information is their full-time job, so don’t underestimate the lengths they’ll go to to steal your passwords. Most simply, hackers can literally buy your passwords on the dark web. Using the same password across different accounts increases your chances of having your details available on the dark web, which is why you need to vary the passwords that you use.
Secondly, experienced cyber criminals will invest in technology to do the hacking for them. There are programmes available that will rapidly guess every word and combination of that word that your password could be. Which is why having long, complicated, unrecognisable passwords decreases risk.
Hackers can also acquire information by carrying out phishing scams. This is when hackers will pose as a legitimate company and email you, asking for personal login details. Some of these scams can look really realistic, so it’s important to always check the sender email address, logos, footers etc. of an email before inputting your data. If you can’t verify the sender – don’t input your data!
What Not to Do When Creating a Password
- Make it short
- Make it a commonly recognised word
- Replace numbers and symbols for letters to make a recognisable word, e.g. ‘App0!ntm3nT’ is recognisable as ‘Appointment’
- Use personal information, e.g. addresses, birthdays, family names
- Use the same password for every account
Instead, try condensing phrases into passwords. For example, ‘100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall’ could be condensed to ‘10oBb0tw.’ Or, use a password generator – these can be found quickly and easily on Google search; many reputable brands such as Norton Antivirus and Lastpass have their own safe and secure password generators that give good password ideas.
How to Protect Your Passwords
1. Use a Password Manager
A password manager stores all passwords for all accounts securely in one place. You’ll need to create an account for your password manager, and then going forward – this is the only password you’ll ever have to remember again!
Using a password manager means you’ll never have to worry about forgetting or loosing passwords again and can instead focus on ensuring all passwords are strong and complicated in line with our guidance.
2. Multi-Factor Authentication
Mutli-factor authentication requires two forms of identification to allow access to devices, platforms applications etc.
In the workplace, it’s common to have a password login on your desktop or laptop and all applications on them. With multi-factor authentication, you would then need to verify your identity in a different way. This is usually through a mobile application, which will provide you with a unique login code or verification link.
Having to verify yourself twice will enviably make it much harder for cyber criminals to access your important data.
Please note that these are only two methods for ensuring that your passwords are safe, and that we always advise a multi-layered approach to cyber security to maximise your protection.