Keeping Your Passwords Secure

The Internet has become a vital part of any business, and the constant examples of computer hacking which are brought to our attention through the media and the experiences of our friends, family and colleagues can be quite scary. We all want our businesses to be protected from malicious activity on the Internet – but how concerned should we be, and how can we take simple measures to protect ourselves and our businesses?

The level of security needed and the level of concern you should hold is really based on the personal circumstances of your business and the type of data you are trying to protect. Should someone break through the security, what do you stand to lose? If you are talking about a blog, or a simple website, the data can be changed quickly and won’t cause you any long term difficulties; but if you are trying to protect client databases including customer’s personal details, credit card and bank details, then your business stands to take a big hit if someone manages to get through your security measures.

The term hacking itself is usually misattributed. Hacking refers to subverting computer security, and while people may feel that their privacy has been violated, it is not malicious. The act of maliciously subverting computer security for the purpose of such things as theft of information, distribution of harmful software or simply just with the intent of causing a disruption and annoyance, is called Cracking. A further point of confusion is that the vast majority of ‘hacking’ reports that we hear about from acquaintances are neither hacking nor cracking, but simply using people’s passwords to gain access to their systems.

It sounds simple, but the most effective way to protect your business online is by choosing a secure password and keeping it completely to yourself. Passwords are frequently disclosed to others both intentionally and unintentionally, but you can protect yourselves in the following ways:

DON’T RECORD YOUR PASSWORD

Many people have difficulty recalling their password and are tempted to write it down or record it on their phone or computer. This can leave you open to password theft by anyone who enters your home, office, or steals or finds your phone or wallet.

DON’T SAVE YOUR PASSWORD TO YOUR INTERNET BROWSER

Most browsers offer to remember your passwords. Turning this function off on your browser settings can prevent you from unwittingly saving your password and giving anyone who uses your computer access to your personal data.

KEEP YOUR BROWSER & SECURITY SOFTWARE UP TO DATE & DON’T OPEN ATTACHMENTS FROM PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW

Make sure the computers you use are free of spyware, malware, and virus infections. No amount of additional security will make a difference if you have a key logger on your computer.

BE AWARE OF POTENTIAL PHISHING SCAMS

It has become a frequent occurrence for people to receive emails from dubious sources, pretending to be a known and trusted company or offering you a special unsolicited deal. Many people end up losing control of their information by providing a response to these emails or entering their personal data into websites they are lead to. The best response to these is to flag them as spam, report phishing, and where applicable report them to the company they are purporting to be.

CHOOSE A SECURE PASSWORD

Your password selection is vital. A good password should be at least 8 characters and be a combination of upper and lower cases, numbers and symbols. The best passwords appear to be completely random. Many make the mistake of either choosing something that they will find easy to remember such as their children’s or pets names and birthdays (and forget that that makes it easy for others to guess). Others choose a random word which they don’t think people would associate with them, but password generators can ‘guess’ this type of password in under three minutes. By adding complexity with a range of characters other than letters you are making it far more difficult for people to get access to your information. Read about choosing a secure password in our article Creating Strong Passwords.

CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD REGULARLY

It is also a good idea to regularly change your password. This doesn’t mean that you need to alter it on a weekly basis, but they should be changed a few times a year. The value of the information you are trying to protect will determine how regularly you should change the password. Banking passwords should be changed monthly, but something of less concern such as social media could be changed quarterly.

2018-05-19T23:13:36+00:00November 17th, 2014|Security|

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