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Online Safety: How to secure your passwords

How many passwords does your business have at the moment? For most people, the answer is too many to remember! In an increasingly digital world, passwords are a necessary evil across websites, email, internet baking and devices and a thorn in the side of all business owners. 

Unfortunately, the reality is that poor password management can lead to serious safety implications if left unchecked, making your business an easy target for potential cyber attacks. 

Cyber Criminials

Many of us are guilty of reusing the same password across various sites and devices, creating simple passwords or not updating them on a regular basis. These poor password practices make it easier for cyber criminials to access your data. 

Did you know that cyber criminals use intelligent automated software that is capable of guessing roughly 350 billion passwords per second? Once a password has been breached, any accounts using the same or similar passwords are likely to become compromised too. 

A compromised password can potentially allow cyber criminals to:

  • Withdraw money from your accounts
  • Send emails from your account
  • Change files on your computer
  • Access your client data
  • Steal your identity

For business owners, a cyber security incident can be especially stressful. Aside from the financial and legal consequences that could apply, there is potential for clients to lose trust in your business after a security breach, damaging your company reputation.

“54% of all employees reuse passwords across multiple work accounts.”

How to create a strong password

A strong password is a password that is difficult to guess, easy to remember, and hard to crack. The best passwords are 12 – 20 characters long, include both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

Security experts now recommend creating a passphrase rather than just a password. A passphrase is an easy-to-remember sentence or phrase that can be used as a password.

When creating passwords or passphrases there are a few key things to remember:

  • Do not use your personal information such as your name, pets, birthday, address or phone number. 
  • Create a unique password or passphrase on each and every account. 
  • Longer passwords or passphrases are most secure
  • Update passwords or passphrases regularly
  • Use two-factor authentication on accounts to increase security
  • Implement a lockout feature for multiple failed login attempts
  • Use a password manager to store your passwords.

Technology to manage your passwords

Password Managers are the easiest and most effective way to manage your online logins securely. Password management software alleviates the pain of trying to remember all those complex passwords, pins and private details, storing them safely in a single encrypted vault.

Password managers use sophisticated AES-256 encryption as trusted by government agencies across the world. Even if your account did become compromised, your data remains safe as it is stored in encrypted form as an indecipherable series of random letters, numbers and symbols. But the best benefit of using a password manager is that you will only need to remember a single master password from now on!

Top 7 Password Management Apps

Is Your Business Cyber Safe?

Start thinking of cyber security as part of your organisation’s safety culture, awareness and vigilance are key here. 

Ensure you install the latest updates for all software and apps on your devices, change your passwords regularly and start using a password manager to store your passwords and logins. It is also important to train your staff on good password practices and online safety. Help them to identify suspicious activity and create safety protocols to protect your business and client data in the event of a cyber attack. Cyber security should be an essential part of your business and included as part of your everyday saftey plan. 

TIP: To check whether your details have been previously compromised, visit the haveibeenpwned.com website. If you show up in a breach it could be worth booking in a cyber security review session.

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