New Year, New… Passwords?

Strong passwords can make a difference in just how hard a hacker will try to get at your business data. By now, it is common knowledge there is no foolproof method for protecting business data but research suggestions that a layered approach is by far the most secure form of cybersecurity out there. Article after article tells businesses that it is vital they have more than one practice in place. If your data is compromised, a weak password can have serious consequences.top 20 common passwords

There are billions of passwords available for purchase on the dark web that a mediocre hacker can buy. Paying anywhere from $15 for a typical media account up to a whopping $120,000 can gain a cyber thief access to an organization’s critical system.

For many employers, their staff has moved to some hybrid form of a remote taskforce. This shift has created the need to be even more vigilant about creating a strong password. But trying to come up with a variety of passwords and then remembering them is next to impossible! Here are some tips and tricks to improve security:

The Longer, the Better – Create a password with a minimum of 8 characters unless it’s protecting something sensitive like a bank account or similar. Then it should be a minimum of 12 characters.
Use the Entire Keyboard – There are more than letters and numbers on your keyboard. It is highly suggested you use upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols to increase the strength of passwords.
Stop Being Common – there is nothing standard about you, and there should be nothing ordinary about your password! Never use a name or common words.
Patterns are Suitable for Dresses and Ties, Not in a Password – A 2013 study by DARPA, the Defense Department’s research agency, found that about half of all passwords used at a Fortune 100 company followed five common patterns, 3 of which are listed below:

One uppercase, five lowercase and three digits (Example: Komand123)
One uppercase, six lowercase and two digits (Example: Komando12)
One uppercase, three lowercase and five digits (Example: Koma12345)

Be Unique – Research by Joseph Bonneau at the University of Cambridge shows that 31% of users reused a password in multiple places. What we are saying is, don’t recycle one password across multiple services.
Use a Password Manager – There are several credible password managers out there, so you don’t have to keep a spreadsheet or google doc, which is a big no-no by the way.

But how can one person be responsible for so many strong passwords and remember them all?!

Create a Sentence
Unless you have a photographic memory, it’s impossible to remember a random 12 character password that consists of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Try this trick. Take the first letter of every word in a sentence you would remember and add in the upper and lower case letters, numbers and a few symbols to produce your password.

Statement: Try to remember, your mom’s birthday is January 6th!
Password: +Tr,YmbIJ06!

Use The Keyboard as a Blank Canvas.
Patterns in your password is not a great idea, but a pattern on your keyboard is! Draw something meaningful to you on your keyboard, not literally but using your imagination. The shape could be your initials (reasonably easy) or a cool shape (more difficult to hack). Again, add in the upper and lower case letters, numbers and a few symbols to produce your password.pattern on keyboard

There is no foolproof method to prevent hackers from gaining access to the data they are looking for but let’s not make it easy for them! Changing your password through out the year is another great idea. Put a reminder on your calendar to change your passwords or use holidays like Easter, summer break, or Halloween to remember to switch things up. Creating a new password on a regular basis is just another layer of security to add to your toolbelt.

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