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Password Security: Your Information’s First Line of Defense

by User Not Found | Mar 22, 2018



By: Juancarlos Martinez VP, Information Security Manager

This blog is part of a series where we share insider expertise about keeping your information safe. Follow along as our information security experts share tips on protecting your identity and your data both online and off.

With the number of online resources and accounts growing, protecting your data is more important than ever. Are your passwords keeping your data and identity safe? Did you know that in 2017, the cost of global cybercrime to the worldwide economy rose to $600 billion dollars? Cybercrime affects everyone, so ensuring your passwords are strong is a great first step to combating cybercrime.

Why do I need a Password?

Passwords are a set of characters strung together in order to help users maintain confidentiality and integrity. Passwords, which are considered a unique identifier for the user, are used as a form of authentication to ensure you are who you say you are. Without having a form of authentication like passwords, it would be hard – if not impossible – to verify you are the correct person authorized to view a certain set of data or access an account. Follow the tips below to make sure your passwords are up to the challenge of keeping your accounts secure.

Step 1: Create Strong Passwords

Information security experts recommend passwords utilize one of each in the following list of characteristics in order to be considered a ‘strong’ password:

  • Uppercase letters

  • Lowercase letters

  • Numbers

  • Special characters/symbols

  • Difficult to guess (avoid names, places, dates such as a birthday/anniversary or any word found in the dictionary)

Passwords should be free of repetition, dictionary words, usernames, pronouns, IDs and any other predefined number or letter sequences. The longer the password, the longer it takes a hacker to succeed with an attack. Additionally, the same password should not be used for multiple systems or applications. Passwords are essential to ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of your devices and data. If you having a hard time finding a unique password, try using a Password Generator to have a unique and strong password created for you. There are even online resources to test how secure your current password is and provide a safety rating; check out How Secure is my Password to test yours! Worried about forgetting these passwords? There is software available, such as LastPass, where you can securely store passwords to readily access them in case you forget, while still protecting your security.

Step 2: Change Passwords Regularly

One of the simplest ways to protect your data is to keep your password fresh. Chances are if you work for a larger corporation, your systems security team requires you to reset your network password regularly. We recommend incorporating this practice for all of your accounts to keep your information protected. Information security experts recommend changing your passwords every 90 days or if you feel your password has been compromised, and to refrain from reusing old passwords. More websites and applications are automatically requiring users to change their passwords regularly because changing your passwords often can help protect your accounts.

Step 3: Utilize Multi-Factor Authentication When Available

An additional authentication method used by applications is multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA is a process that requires more than one method of authentication to verify a user’s identity when logging into an application or performing a transaction. Most commonly used MFA methods include text messages, hard or soft tokens, or a phone call. Many vendors and accounts are now offering this multi factor authentication as a means to help protect your information. We encourage you to use MFA whenever it is offered.

Strong passwords are the first line of defense in protecting your business and your identity from criminals. Neglecting to treat them seriously is an invitation for disaster. Stay tuned for more posts about keeping your information safe from our team of information security experts!

 

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