‘Hacking’ is a term that is now firmly associated with 2017. Last year was littered with numerous cyberattacks, data breaches and hacks. From the NHS WannaCry attack that affected over 7000 appointments, to the Petya/NotPetya attack that lead to the manual monitoring of Chernobyl’s radiation levels, right through to Uber who paid their hackers $100,000 to delete their hacked data and keep quiet. Fortunately, 2018 has not been littered with these huge scale attacks in the same way as last year (and fingers crossed it stays that way!).
These attacks did have one positive outcome: it encouraged conversation about cybersecurity. Many businesses are taking measures towards safeguarding their data and keeping their IT systems secure. Whilst having a secure IT infrastructure in place is essential, having secure passwords is equally important; you could have the best security measures in the world but if your passwords are poor, your data is still at risk.
With this in mind, we thought we’d share a few tips for secure passwords.
Don’t use ‘123456’
You’re probably not surprised to hear that ‘123456’ and ‘password’ have topped the list of the worst passwords for 6 years running. The list uses data from 5 million leaked passwords from North America and West Europe. Variations such as ‘123123’, ‘12345’ and ‘123456789’ are also culprits on the list. Despite this, people continue to use these passwords.
So, you shouldn’t use any of the above, but how do you actually create a strong password? Ensuring you use a range of uppercase and lowercase letters as well as numbers and special characters is essential.
Passphrases are a great alternative to passwords. It’s been proven that length is a key way to make your password more secure. Passphrases enable you to have a long password that’s easy to remember.
As an example, if you take the road name Victoria Drive Ilkley and replace characters with upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters, it would turn into ‘V1ctor1A+Dr1v3+1lkl3y’ – a very secure passphrase.
You can create a passphrase from anything that is memorable. Remember to keep it random though – you don’t want to use your name, your business name or the name of the account you’re logging into for example.
Don’t reuse passwords
So, you’ve created your strong password or passphrase. The most important part is not to use this for multiple sites. Using the same password over and over is a sure-fire way to provide hackers with a quick way to take you to the cleaners! Using the same password for everything means that if you’re hacked on one platform, those hackers then have your login credentials for everything else too, meaning you’re totally exposed.
Consider a password management tool
Remembering all of these different strong passwords can be a challenge. We’d recommend using a password management tool such a KeyPass or LastPass if you’re struggling. This way you only need to remember one password – the password that allows you to access your passwords. This is obviously much more secure than writing them down or keeping them in a word document for example.
Keep your password to yourself
We’ve heard some horror stories of organisations where every employee has the same computer password, users are given passwords to use, or all the company passwords are written down somewhere for ‘safekeeping’. It goes without saying that this is not best practice; you should pick your passwords yourself and they should be different to your colleagues’ passwords. Lastly, change your password every few months – the longer you have a password for, the more time there is for it to be hacked.
Why Ilkley IT Services?
We help small and medium sized businesses who don’t have an in-house IT department maximise and maintain their business IT infrastructure.
We constantly monitor your PCs, network and other IT devices. We’ll often prevent problems from happening without users even knowing, meaning you and your staff continue to work uninterrupted.
On the rare occasions when things do go wrong we’re ready to respond quickly and efficiently. With our vast experience and investment in the best tools we are well equipped to get you back up and running in the quickest possible time.
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