By Gina Blitstein

Passwords are a necessary evil in today’s workplace. They’re a technological key, if you will, locking down critical data stored on computers or online. Even though passwords can seem to be a hassle to implement – and remember – they’re as vital to your security as keeping cash in your safe and dead-bolting your doors at the end of the day.*

When the workday is hectic, it’s easy to get lackadaisical about passwords and fall into potentially dangerous practices, which put company data at risk of loss or theft. You may not even realize your company could improve upon the way it protects its data on computers and online. Make certain everyone working at your business is serious about password security and understands the potential consequences of following poor password practices.

Poor Password Practices

  1. Not password protecting at all - Even though password protection can be disabled, this is not prudent. Even when you have a limited number of people accessing data, security breaches are too common and your data is too precious to opt out of password-protecting your information on computers and online.
  2. Using something too obvious, as your password - Of course, choosing passwords like the word, “password,” or “1234,” your business’ address, or your beloved pet’s name, are easy to remember. They are also easy for a cyber-thief or dishonest officemate to guess.
  3. Failing to choose a secure password - Above and beyond not choosing an obvious password, you should incorporate numbers and symbols to make it substantially more secure.
  4. Using the same password in more than one place - When you use the same password in multiple places, if someone gets hold of it, they potentially have access to all of the places you use that password.
  5. Keeping your password list where it can be found by an unauthorized party - When you have multiple passwords, it’s nearly impossible to remember them all, so you’ll need to create and store a list. Find a secure place to keep that list that’s not obvious, or somewhere easily accessible to others. To leave it out in the open is as unadvisable as keeping your house key under the doormat.
  6. Having everyone use the same password for the same equipment or account - Think of it this way: When everyone uses the same password, everyone knows everybody’s password. Establishing individual users or accounts gives each person the power over their own access and security. It also allows everyone else to keep their own password when an employee leaves the company.
  7. Using the same password(s) for too long - The longer you have the same password – especially if it’s not a very secure one – the more likely it could be guessed or stolen. When you change your password, you prevent anyone who had your previous one from gaining access because it’s no longer valid.

Improved Password Practices

Even if you’re guilty of some of the poor password practices listed above, don’t despair! There’s help available so your company can improve overall computer and online security. Some things that can help include:

Password Management Solutions

These programs or services, in essence, keep all your various passwords in a virtual “vault.” Only you can access the passwords you’ve saved in the vault by unlocking it using one master password you choose and remember. Each password can be unique and highly secure (in fact, they can even generate a random secure password for you) and is automatically saved within the product.

Biometric Recognition

This is the fingerprint recognition that serves as your password. The device “reads” your fingerprint and unlocks when it recognizes it as yours. As no two fingerprints are the same, you’re assured a high degree of security.

Two-factor Authorization

When enabled, two-factor authorization will require an additional step before logging into your password-protected device or service. When your password is entered, you receive a text with an additional code to enter for access. So, even if you have the password, login cannot be completed until the access code is entered, providing an added level of assurance that it is indeed you, in possession of your own technology.

Passwords can be a pain to deal with, but not nearly as big a pain as the identity theft, inconvenience and loss of trust a breach could cause. Whenever your company stores and accesses its own information, customer data, financial records or other sensitive materials using technology, it’s crucial to take steps to protect it. Passwords are your first and most effective line of defense against loss.

Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts.

*For more information about computer security for your business, view our free webinar “I.T. Security and Cloud Computing.”

 


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank or its affiliates.