Security is a concern of every business in today’s connected world. Verizon’s annual Data Breach and Security Report found that 81 percent of hacking-related data breaches involved either stolen or weak, easily cracked, passwords. Today, password protection is a top priority for IT security teams for businesses of every size.

Here are some best practices to implement that can help to help strengthen your security against common threats today.

  • Use Long “Passphrases” – Combining letters and symbols to create passwords was an accepted safe practice for years. Today, hackers have tools available that can easily crack simple passwords that substitute numbers for letters like H3ll0 (hello). Today, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends creating long “passphrases ”up to 64 characters long that are easy to remember, but difficult to crack – for example, “horse tree battery baseball.” They found that it took only 3 days to crack a password that substitutes characters, while the passphrase would take 550 years to crack.
  • Create a Password Blacklist – Attacks often begin when hackers using automation scan a database of popular passwords, dictionary words, or passwords that have already been compromised. NIST encourages enterprises to use the same sources to create a blacklist. By comparing passwords to this list, businesses can prevent employees from using weak, easily cracked passwords.
  • Use Advanced Authentication Methods – While passwords are still widely used, new technology emphasizes non-password based methods, for example, biometric technology. Users can be identified using biometric verification like facial recognition, voice, iris or touch.
  • Apply Password Encryption – Encryption can keep your passwords safe even if they are stolen by cybercriminals. Many businesses tend to use reversible, or one-way encryption. These methods are ineffective. If the hacker obtains the password database they can crack and compromise the passwords it contains. The best practice is to implement non-reversible, end-to-end encryption. This will protect passwords anytime they are in transit over your network.

Using weak passwords is like locking the front door and leaving the back door wide open. Talk you your employees and encourage them to adopt procedures like these. By implementing these best practices you can create an effective password policy that will add another layer of protection against unauthorized network access.

For more information on keeping your critical data safe and secure, give us a call!