Password Best Practices
Passwords are more than just gateways; they’re the keys to your kingdom of workplace and personal data. As such, they should be created with security in mind and guarded carefully from external threats.
The following tips will help you instill strong password habits that keep your data from falling into the wrong hands and keep cyber threats at bay.
Make Them Strong
Aim for a password at least 12-16 characters long—the longer, the better. Include a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
Avoid Easily Guessable Passwords
Despite the convenience, stay away from common words, phrases, or patterns, such as "password," "123456," "qwerty," or "admin,” weak passwords that are still used with alarming regularity. Moreover, avoid easily discoverable personal information like your name, birth date, or family members' names.
One Shouldn’t Fit All
Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts—it puts more data at risk if the password is ever compromised. Scammers possessing a stolen password will often try using it on multiple accounts. Create a unique password for each of your online accounts.
Try Using a Passphrase
Consider using passphrases, which are longer combinations of words or sentences, such as MydogWeighs88pounds. They’re often easier to remember and far more secure because they’re unique.
Leverage the Power of Password Managers
Regularly Update Passwords
Change your passwords periodically, especially for critical accounts like email and banking.
Beware of Phishing
Be cautious of phishing emails and websites that attempt to trick you into revealing your passwords. Always verify the source before entering your login details. Often, a quick review of the sender’s email address is enough to confirm if it’s legit.
Check for Breaches
Use online tools like Have I Been Pwned to check if your email or passwords have been part of any data breaches. If they have, change your passwords immediately.
Educate and Train
Educate yourself and your team about password best practices, creating a culture that puts a premium on information security.
Tweak Ordinary Words
To make deciphering passwords or passphrases difficult, avoid using complete dictionary words or common phrases. Instead, misspell it or insert numbers or special characters within the word.
Long and Random is Key
Longer passwords that appear random are more secure. Avoid patterns or sequences that are easier to guess.
Never Share or Reuse
Don’t share your passwords with others unless necessary. If you must share your password, change it once the need for doing so has been met. Avoid reusing passwords across multiple accounts.
Use Security Questions Wisely
Consider using fictional answers to security questions that are difficult for others to guess but still memorable for you. If you use personal information, be wary of social media quizzes that solicit the name of your first car or the street you grew up on that scammers create to mine personal information.
Secure Your Recovery Options
Ensure that the email or phone number associated with your accounts are secure since they are often used for password recovery.
Regularly Monitor Your Accounts
Monitor your account activity and report any suspicious or unauthorized access immediately.
Implement a Lockout Policy
Set up a policy that locks an account after a certain number of failed login attempts to thwart brute-force attacks.
Encrypt Sensitive Information
Encrypt sensitive data on your devices, so that even if they are stolen or compromised, the data remains protected.
Keep up with cybersecurity news and trends to adjust your practices as needed.
Remember that while strong passwords are crucial, they’re just one layer of defense in cybersecurity. A comprehensive security strategy includes a combination of practices, including software updates, firewalls, regular backups, and user education.
Any conversation about password security should also include multi-factor authentication, an additional layer of security we cover in a complementary blog post.
At Sparklight, we take information security seriously and use the latest technology to protect the Wi-Fi solutions we provide to businesses of all sizes. To learn more, contact us today.