Every week in our ComputerHABITS blog, we update you on some of the measures that you can take to help protect your business from a cyber breach. But what if we told you that there is a fast, easy, and free way to realize stronger cyber security right now? This simple step can immediately improve your chances of staying secure. What is it you ask?
Create strong passwords.
It sounds basic, but this is one of the most overlooked security measures in the business world. You can arm yourself with the best antivirus software, practice safe browsing habits, run backups and have full managed IT services, but if someone has your real username and password, then there is no stopping them from wreaking havoc on your business. Simply put, if your password isn’t secure, then your business isn’t secure.
Prevention is Always the Best Medicine
A healthy lifestyle can prevent you from having to deal with heart disease or a coronary bypass. Flossing and brushing your teeth twice a day can help save you from an expensive root canal. Similarly, a strong, secure password can prevent all of your data and financials from being compromised. Rather than dealing with the costly and legal hassle of a security breach, you could save yourself a lot of time and money by simply following these guidelines for a strong password.
First of all, if your password is “password” then go change it right now! Don’t finish reading this until you’ve changed it to literally anything else. That may sound funny, but it isn’t much of a joke considering that “password” is one of the most commonly used passwords in the world. That also makes it especially easy to guess. Other contenders for easily guessed passwords include those that contain family names, birthdays, or other information that is pertinent to you. You’d be amazed at how many personal details a hacker can easily find out with just a little digging.
What Does a Strong Password Look Like?
A strong password will usually not be a single word or name. Many websites require you to have a combination of numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and special characters in order to ensure a certain level of security. Understandably, it can be very hard to remember a password that looks something like this: Kw#15LLb. To help you remember, you can utilize a memorization technique that will allow you to use something personal to you for the password.
For example, you could use the following phrase to help you remember the password above: Kyle was #15 in Little League baseball. However, it is important to note that having the same password for every account is very risky, even if it is a strong password. On the off chance that your password is compromised, the hacker will have access to every single one of your accounts.
There are other ways to remember your passwords, while also making them different for every account. One technique is to create a code from a unique set of numbers and characters that is uniform across all of your passwords, such as 5391#. Then, you can add a few characters to the beginning or end, that are specific to each individual account. That way, you can standardize at least half of your passwords, and you only have to remember the specifics of each account.
For example, Facebook might look something like 5391#FzEbk. The additional characters are easy enough to remember, but not particularly easy to guess. The key to keeping this kind of password secure is making sure that you are the only person who knows your code. Even though each of your passwords is different, if someone figures out that standardized code then it will be easier for them to guess the other part of your passwords.
What Else can you Do?
Just having a strong password isn’t always enough though, especially if several people know it. Actively monitoring your sign-ins can help you ensure that someone else doesn’t have your sign-in information. Many websites will do this for you if they recognize that someone is signing in from a new device, and will notify you to confirm that it is you.
In order to further safeguard your password security, you should also enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible. This method of security is one of the best ways to truly secure your account.
The way it works – Whenever you, or anyone else tries to sign in to your account, you will be notified, often via a text message or phone call, and sent a confirmation code. You must enter this code in order to proceed with the login. So even if someone has your username and password, they will still not be able to sign in without the code that only you have. Essentially, two factor authentication ensures that the person signing into your account has the legitimate credentials and information required to confirm their identity. Large companies such as Google, Amazon and Apple heavily recommend that their users employ this security measure. It takes less than a minute to implement and could ultimately protect you from a devastating security breach.
If you ever notice any irregular sign-ins, or you are notified that someone is trying to sign-in from an unknown device, that is your cue to change your password immediately. This is the first warning sign of someone breaching your security, and unless you act fast, the outside party will have unrestricted access to all of your files. But if you stay vigilant, take the time to create strong passwords for each of your accounts, and employ 2FA, then you are one step closer to a safe, well-guarded system.
We help businesses in the Portland area employ cyber security “best practices” every day. Contact ComputerHABITS today for a free consultation and find out how we can help protect your business from a cyber breach.