Cyber security. Ransomware. Data theft.
Are there words that inspire more dread in the hearts and minds of business leaders, IT professionals, and risk managers? While cyber security should always be top of mind for businesses and individuals, alike, we are facing more risk today than we ever have in the past. Whether the goal is modern-day warfare, hacktivism, financial or identity theft, hackers are sophisticated and ruthless. As they grow smarter, there is no question that we must remain diligent in protecting our data to the very best of our abilities.
For the past two years, XONEX has been relentless in our pursuit to shore up our systems. As we continue to contemplate security on a daily basis, we must also consider the security of network users, both internally and externally, on our systems as well as other systems commonly used. Surely, we don’t want XONEX to get hacked – but, we also don’t want anyone to get hacked, for any reason, at any time. That’s why, today, we are going to talk about passwords.
Creating Strong Passwords
According to Hive Systems, a cyber security firm, 65% of people memorize their most-used passwords - are you one of them? If your password is something you can memorize, it’s likely not strong enough to provide adequate protection. Hive recently released an updated password chart that demonstrates how quickly your password can be hacked, depending on the formula you use to create them. Passwords that are most protected are comprised of numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and special symbols. Adding to this complexity, Hive also suggests that passwords use between 16 and 18 characters! That’s a lot to memorize! For more guidance, please review this password table. Are you in the green?
Remembering Strong Passwords
It goes without saying that most people will not be able to remember unique and strong passwords for every site they use, even if used on a daily basis. While some folks prefer to write down their passwords and store it somewhere safe, this is inconvenient when on a hybrid office schedule or when you are traveling. Further, now that many companies are requiring password resets every 90 days, you will need a whole book to keep track of every change.
We suggest looking into a password manager to help you keep track. Password managers have one job, which is to protect your passwords. According to Hive, these companies are really good at it.
Moving Beyond User Names and Passwords
Strong passwords are a necessary defense against hacking, but CIO suggests it's imperative to implement two-factor or multi-factor authentication (2FA) for access to all computers, servers, infrastructure services, and business applications. It helps keep criminals at bay by requiring a two-step process to verify your identity. While you may have experienced this two-step process with email verification, you can take it a step further with an authenticator application. These applications are set up to provide a one-time code every time you log in to your account. This code refreshes constantly, ensuring an ever-changing pin. At a time when you cannot be too careful, we highly recommend using an authenticator application, as email can be hacked thus eliminating the effectiveness of 2FA.
Last, but not least, make sure you always log out of your applications when you are done using them.