Cyber-security: strengthening Staff Passwords

It’s one of of the simplest steps you can take to strengthen the security of your IT infrastructure. Reduce the risk of cyber attack by ensuring that you and all your colleagues are using strong passwords. If you don’t already have a password policy in place, perhaps now is the time to implement one? Failing to protect your electronic assets is a frequent error that’s easily avoided.

Consequences of weak passwords

As an individual, the consequences of sharing a password, or choosing a password that’s easy to guess, can be severe. Your personal information may be compromised in a cyber attack. Your email account hacked. Or worse – you could end up being financially ruined. For a business, the consequences are potentially far more devastating. If financial data or sensitive company information is exposed, or if an unauthorised person gains access to customer information. The result could mean the failure of the business.

Education is essential

Educate your employees about the importance of good password security for their work accounts. They will be able to apply this knowledge when considering their personal online cyber security. It may sound obvious, but not everybody will be aware of how to ensure their password is suitable. Circulate a list of ‘basics’ to follow:

  • Don’t choose something easy to guess (such as your pet’s name, favourite football team, your own name or date of birth)
  • Don’t write down your password or save it in an insecure location
  • Avoid telling anybody else your password
  • Refrain from using the same password for multiple accounts

What makes a good password?

When creating an account with an online provider and choosing a password for the first time, many services impose particular requirements. These may include a minimum of 8 characters, a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, at least one number. For the most secure password, you should aim to follow all of these conditions if possible:

  • Make the password as long as possible – at least 8 characters, but ideally longer
  • Avoid dictionary words – even if you include numbers at the end, these are easy to crack!
  • Use special characters such as & £ * if the system allows you to do so

How can I remember multiple strong passwords?

The ideal password should be easy to remember, but difficult to guess. If you’re sticking to best-practice in terms of password composition, it’s going to be a hard task to commit multiple un-guessable passwords to memory. Many people choose to use a password manager service to deal with this problem. Random, highly secure passwords are generated on your behalf and stored in your password manager account, so you only need to remember one.

Should I change my password regularly?

It’s often advised that you should change your passwords frequently to avoid compromising your cyber security. Recent research has suggested that this may not necessarily be the case. Individuals who are required to change their password often can end up frustrated, and consequently, make poorer password choices than those who choose a cyber secure option and stick with it.

Of course, you should always change your passwords as soon as you suspect any of your accounts may have been compromised.