You wouldn’t leave the front door to your business unlocked all night, or hand a stranger the key, would you? It may surprise you to know that if your password security isn’t up to par you may be doing just that. Whether you have 5 or 50 computers in your office network, the fact remains: the right password is your first line of defense against criminals. Read on to learn everything you need to know to safeguard your information, and keep hackers at bay.

Expect the Worst

Don’t think it won’t happen to you: cybercrime costs the United States over 100 billion dollars each year, and while you may think hackers are only interested in big business, think again. Small to medium businesses are equally at risk, by one of these three methods of attack:

  1. Social Engineering: The least technical of the three, this method utilizes human interaction, to trick people into giving up their passwords. Examples can include everything from email phishing scams to a cleverly orchestrated phone call.
  2. Dictionary Attacks: Software is used to systematically enter each word in the dictionary, until the desired password is found.
  3. Brute Force: This trial and error method uses sophisticated software to re-combine letters of every possible combination and variation.

Change Is Good

Reliable password security involves changing your password every 30 to 90 days, and if you or your staff use the office computer for personal banking, shopping or emailing, change those passwords too.

Play It Safe

Rather than using a post-it note to affix your password to your monitor, avoid writing it down altogether. Instead, use your password to log in and out frequently in the first few days, until you’ve committed it to memory.

Password Security Dos And Don’ts

Remember: if it’s easy for you to remember, it’s easy for a hacker to guess.

Do:

  • Use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and characters, at least eight figures in length
  • Substitute letters with characters and numbers

Don’t:

  • Use the name of your pet, child or significant other
  • Use your phone number, SSN, or birthdate
  • Leave the default password
  • Use only letters or only numbers
  • Use any word that can be found in the dictionary, not even a foreign one

Simply knowing about password security isn’t enough. Practice these password management tips, and educate staff members on the importance of a strong password to keep your company’s information safe.