Online security has never been more important, but many small businesses continue to overlook it. Today, we’re going to explore some simple password tips, which can save massive headaches for business owners. Security breaches cause all kinds of serious problems for businesses. These range from reputational damage, to legal damages and fines. Could you imagine the damage to your privacy or wallet if your social media or other online accounts were hacked? Or, even worse, have your accounts been hacked in the past and you now want to make sure you help keep them secure in the future? While these are often overcomable, prevention is always the best strategy. We’ll explain some easy password security steps you can take to protect yourself.

Password Security Tips: The Essentials

Amazingly, there are still countless businesses and employees who use the same passwords across all of their accounts. Even those who vary their credentials mostly fail to use best practices for their passwords. This makes them sitting ducks for security breaches. The following are tips you should implement across your organisation to ensure the highest possible security standards are maintained. Crucially, you should ensure that all of your employees understand and act on these tips.

1. Include a Variety of Characters

Consider using numbers, symbols, capitals, and punctuation marks instead of only sticking to one form of characters. Vulnerable and weak passwords, which don’t incorporate different types of characters, can make your information and personal data vulnerable to hackers. This is why some accounts require you to include at least one number, one uppercase letter, and sometimes one symbol. Doing so ensures the strength and security of passwords. Applying this technique to all your passwords can be a really worthwhile decision. Lately, specialists are calling for “pass phrases” rather than trying to put together character-varied passwords. For example: a password like “I<3$>thanI$hould” which reads “I love money more than I should.” is a good example of a fun, strong password with varied characters, that’s also easy to remember.

2. Go for Long Passwords

A lengthy password is usually safer than a complex one. Keeping your passwords above the 12 character range makes it harder for scammers and hackers to crack them. So, you should combine long patterns and characters that are easy for you to recall, but not for others. Whether you choose to incorporate special dates, quotes, favourite movies, or books, you should always keep them lengthy. For example, a password like “(2/10)@Clifford!fallinginlovewithyou” or “(10.88Iam30&:D)” – which says October 1988, I am 30 and happy – will serve you much better than a random string like “qlfnv.7409!@$?”. The latter could be almost impossible to recall if you hadn’t logged in for a while. Plus, it’s clear that it’s nothing more than a number of characters put together with no special hint for anyone to remember. Remember: lengthy and personalised is the perfect mix for great password security.
Password strength infographic
The right password will take billions of years to hack. Image credit: Hive Systems

3. Check Password Strength

Checking for password strength is a quick and simple, yet effective, way to ensure robust passwords. When signing up for new websites, some of them provide a password strength meter checker. With marks ranging from red being the weakest, orange being medium, and green being the strongest, meters show your passwords’ level of complexity and strength. In addition, you can easily use some websites to check your potential password’s strength. You might want to check these secure password checkers like Kaspersky Lab or HOW SECURE IS MY PASSWORD. Whatever you choose, if you’re seeking tips for password security, remember to mind and follow the suggestions from these tools.

4. Consider Logging out

We all know how tempting it is to click “Remember me” so a browser remembers your password and automatically signs you in every time you visit that website. However, this means it will only take a few seconds for someone to access your information and data, or even change your password, if you’re ever away from your desktop. The same goes with mobile applications that automatically save your password without even asking “remember me?” You just login once and you never have to worry about logging in again unless you go for a new mobile. The “keep me signed in” box spares you having to remember a few characters, but leaves your security at risk. It takes time and practice to start logging out but it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Password Security Tips: Alternatives to Consider

Password Security / FingerprintPassword Security Tips

1. Consider a Fingerprint

Typically, most people tend to secure their phones and desktops using either a pattern they draw or a numerical code. Luckily, the 21st century has brought many technological advances. Today, most phones and laptops enable you to register fingerprints. A fingerprint pass is less likely to be hacked when compared to typical password security tips and typical passwords that could be guessed or cracked. Still, you’ll need to log out from all your accounts before putting down your mobile or leaving your laptop.

2. Don’t Use One Password

The average person has more accounts than they could count on both hands. Whether email addresses, social media websites, or even business accounts, it is a tiresome to recall more than two or three passwords. That said, it’s more likely than not that you access all these accounts using the same two or three passwords. What you haven’t realised is that you have only made a hacker’s life much easier. In your case, with just a few passwords, breaching one account means breaching all your other accounts. A good idea is to stick or write “hint notes” that don’t actually read your password, but just give you clues to recall your passwords. So, following the example above, your hint note can be “too much love!” for “I<3$$>thanI$hould”.

3. Don’t Share Your Password

This seems like a basic and logical password security tip, however people still fall right into this trap. Sometimes, protecting your security is going to be as simple as not sharing your password with anyone. Your trusted person also has another trusted person. You don’t want your password ending up with someone who’d jump at any given opportunity to harm you – even if it were an accident.

4. Don’t Enter Your Password Just Anywhere

This point follows naturally. It’s important that you don’t enter any of your passwords on unknown computers or devices, just in case there is any malware software. Even more, you should avoid entering your password when using unknown or unsecured internet connections. Scammers and hackers can easily breach your password and abuse your information over unsecure connections. However, if you do use an unsecured computer or connection, change your password immediately afterwards. It’s also recommended that you change your passwords occasionally, while old passwords shouldn’t be reused for at least a year.

5. Consider a Multi-Factor Authenticator

Taking things a step further with a two-factor authentication is an extra security procedure, but certainly an adequate one. Authentication methods vary between setup software and hardware methods: basic (entry level) and cutting edge solutions. One “entry level” way to do this is through SMS verification. This is an SMS sent to a registered phone with a code for the user to enter in order to verify his/her identity before being allowed to login. Another way could be through software authentication methods like Google Authenticator application or 2FA for Apple iCloud. In addition, there is also hardware authentication using USB security keys like YubiKey. Although SMS is more common, it’s still not perfect, since codes are only sent when logging from unknown devices.

6. Password Manager

Last, but definitely not the least, is one of the most functional password security tips – using a password manager. With the growing number of applications people sign up for, it has become almost impossible to keep track of all your passwords. Fortunately, there are plenty of programs to help you create unique and robust passwords for all your accounts. Instead of having to remember a dozen passwords for different accounts, they enable you to manage and access all your data using only one “master” password. Some of these programs are cost-free like KeePass, but can only be accessed through desktop browsers. Others offer paid services that go as far as allowing access through mobile platforms making it more functional like LastPass and 1Password.

Summary: Is Your Security An Invitation?

Everyone is, sadly, prone to hacking. This means that lax password security is like leaving an open wallet lying around. In this day and age, there is really no excuse for sloppy password management. Simple steps can help deter theft. To that end, follow these password security tips to ensure the security of your business, your employees, and your customers. Make them part of your routine today plus keep in touch with the latest methods, and you can enjoy the benefits for a lifetime.

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