Does this scenario sound familiar?
You open your computer and receive the dreaded message: “Please change your password.” You’re ten minutes late to a meeting, the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet and you franticly type in a simple password.
“password123” or “Spring2022”
How would that password hold up against a hacker? Not well. While you may continue about your day busy with meetings and tasks, a hacker could guess your password and access your accounts within milliseconds.
World Password Day—May 5—was created by Intel to raise awareness about the role strong passwords play in securing all of our digital lives. As we observe World Password Day, we’ve outlined the importance of having a strong password, how to create one and other password best practices that can protect your business against cyber threats.
Why Having a Strong Password is More Important Today than Ever Before
Take a minute to think about everything that is secured with a password at your organization: your computer, phone, client information, vendor accounts and much more. What would happen if all those accounts were unprotected?
For many organizations, the result is a hacking ripple effect. If one of your employee’s email is hacked, his or her personal and company information, information within email correspondence, credentials to other accounts, financial details and confidential company data is all available to the hacker.
Unfortunately, the rise of social media, the prevalence of cryptocurrency, the increase in internet users and the increase of remote work have led to more hacking events, which pose a new set of challenges when it comes to keeping your personal information private.
The 2022 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report shows that governments across the globe have seen a 1,885% increase in ransomware attacks and the healthcare industry has seen a 755% increase in attacks—but no business and no industry is immune.
This same report also states that from March through November of 2021 there were seven major ransomware attacks across the globe resulting in media, supply chain and infrastructure disruptions, explosive data breaches, and millions upon millions of dollars stolen.
To protect your organization from this kind of damage, it’s important to make it as difficult as possible for hackers to get into your business’ network, and a strong password is a good first line of defense. But an easy-to-guess, unsecured password could be your organization’s weakest link.
How to Create a Strong Password
One of the easiest places to start is securing your organization’s logins and passwords. Here are a few tips for creating a strong password:
- Steer away from using personal information (such as a family member’s name, your phone number, birthday or Social Security number) in your password. These are often the first things cyber hackers use to guess your password.
- Avoid using consecutive numbers and single words.
- Mix it up. A strong password consists of a mixture of random numbers, letters and symbols, with a minimum of at least 12 characters or more.
- A helpful tactic is to pick a sentence or phrase and reduce it to the first letters of each word only. For example, “A Golden Key Can Open Any Door” becomes AGKCOAD.
- Even reversing the spelling of a word, so that “partnership” becomes “pihsrentrap” is a helpful password-creating tactic.
- The most important part of creating a password is making sure your password is unique and not used for multiple accounts. If one account is hacked, the next step for a hacker would be to try the same or similar password on as many personal accounts as possible.
Other Password Best Practices
In addition to creating a strong password, there are several other things you can do to strengthen your password practices.
Use a Password Management Solution
There are an abundant number of apps that allow you to store your passwords safely, also known as Password Management Solutions, which are proven to be safer than writing down your passwords. These apps organize and store any passwords you have, all secured by a master password of your choosing. It’s important when downloading these apps to make sure they are certified. Some recommended Password Management Solution apps include KeePass, RoboForm, LastPass and AnyPassword.
Test Your Password with a Password Cracker
There are also apps known as “password crackers” that allow you to try out a password to see how long it would take someone to “crack” your password. PassWorks Checker in the Apple App Store is a good option when you’re looking to test a password on your mobile device, and How Secure is My Password is a good option for web browser users.
Use Caution in Public Spaces
If you log into an account on a public computer, don’t forget to log out. This simple mistake allows anyone easy access to look through your personal data. Even harmlessly giving a friend your password could result in someone overhearing and having access to your account.
Train Your Employees
Set a password policy for your organization and train your team about password best practices. One weak password can be an open door to your company’s data.
Learn More About Strong Passwords and Best Practices
Password protection is something that, if overlooked, has the potential to permanently damage an organization. Still, because of our busy lives, many are reluctant to keep up with the latest security solutions.
Ready to level-up your logins on World Password Day? Contact Warren Averett Technology Group to speak with an advisor and learn more about password security and how your business can be more protected against cyber threats.
This article was originally published on May 20, 2021 and was most recently updated on May 5, 2022.