As today’s digital landscape continues to shift, more and more companies are becoming concerned about flaws in their data security. This concern doesn’t go unwarranted, as every year cybercrimes continue to affect businesses all over the globe, resulting in trillions of dollars in company losses.
Due to this destructive curve, it’s essential that all companies adopt an effective password security policy for their organization. Many cyberattacks are only successful because companies fail to encourage employees to create, store and manage business-related passwords the right way.
SMB owners would be wise to close the password security gap.
Here are four steps that all employees should follow to ensure they are maximizing their password security.
Create more complicated passwords
Over the years, the characteristics that make up strong passwords have changed considerably. Cybercriminals have developed new tools to bypass standard password security protocols effectively. (In other words, adding “!” to the end of your passwords is hardly enough.)
In nearly all cases, shorter passwords are much easier to crack than longer ones—even if you get all creative with special characters.
Ideally, passwords should be at least 12-characters long and should use a varying combination of letters (small and lowercase), numbers and special characters. Most hacker programs are designed to decode alphabetized and numerical values sequentially. By varying the sequence these characters are laid out in, it could take several years to decrypt the password.
Or in plain English, passwords that look like gibberish tend to be hard to hack. This is an easy way to boost your password security.
Enable two-step verification wherever possible
In a business setting, many systems, databases and online portals give users the option of two-step verification. Two-step verification adds a nice additional level of password security.
But there’s a catch. Given the option, many employees tend to skip this security feature. Yes, two-step verification makes it nearly impossible for anyone other than the intended user to log in. But it also adds an extra step when employees log in.
For example, many two-step verification systems send a code to your mobile phone via SMS. You have to enter that code to log in. Without the correct login credentials in combination with this verification code, access the account is impossible.
We recommend that you require employees to use two-step verification when it’s offered.
Change your passwords regularly
While slightly inconvenient, regularly changing passwords is another foundational password security tactic. If you instruct employees to do it the right way.
You can’t just add “123” to the end of your old password. You need to create entirely new, complex passwords.
The standard best practice is to change company passwords no less than 2-3 times a year. And be sure to train your employees to use different passwords for each account. Using the same password for everything leaves a trail of breadcrumbs for cybercriminals looking for easy access into secure business systems.
Utilize secure password managers
The best password is one that even you don’t know. But if you don’t know it, how can you use it?
Password management apps to the rescue.
Using a password manager (like LastPass), employees can generate complex and highly-encrypted passwords for all of their accounts. The password manager will safely store passwords for easy login access. This flexibility makes it possible for employees to have separate passwords for all of their accounts while making it easy to change them at regular intervals.
Effective password security
Managing company passwords efficiently is a vital step to ensuring the integrity of your system security.
If you and your employees following these tips for password security, you’ll be taking an essential step toward protecting your company data.