Protecting your company seems more difficult than ever these days. It feels like every week there are new stories of companies becoming victims of security breaches that not only affect revenue but can severely damage a business's reputation. Most business owners will say that securing company data is one of their top priorities, but there's still a question over how to do it most effectively. In fact, many businesses may overlook one of the simplest yet most powerful ways to foil hackers--the use of passwords. It may sound like a strategy that's all too basic for today's high-tech age, but passwords remain an effective deterrent to security breaches, provided they're employed in a manner that maximizes their effectiveness. That means you have to know the tricks to what makes a good password and how best to manage them throughout your company.
The first steps towards creating a good password is to ensure it's a strong one. Simply using a loved one's birthday or the name of your first pet isn't good enough and can easily be cracked by hackers. A strong password should follow some very basic guidelines. First, it should be at least eight characters long, preferably more. The general rule is that the longer the password, the more difficult it is to figure out. Second, passwords should include capital letters, numbers, and symbols to make each password all the more unique. Third, passwords should be changed on a regular basis. Even if you think you have a really strong password, changing it ensures that hackers will be kept guessing. And fourth, you should use different passwords for every account you have.
That last point can be the source of a lot of headaches for business owners and IT departments. When businesses have dozens to hundreds of employees, and each employee uses multiple important accounts, providing a strong, unique password for each account can be a real challenge. One way to make the workload easier is to have each employee responsible for his or her own passwords, no matter how many accounts they have. This requires a great deal of trust on the part of the business owner, but that can be increased with the right education and training. Once employees know what constitutes a strong password, and once they're aware of the security threats out there, they'll take the responsibility seriously and make sure their passwords prevent outside attacks.
If you prefer a more hands-on approach to company-wide password management, however, there are numerous tools out there that can aid you in the task. Password management applications and programs help business owners keep track of all the passwords used by employees for business purposes. They can also help individuals remember all their passwords by keeping them in one location. It might seem like an unwise strategy to store all your passwords in one place, but as long as you have a strong master password that gives you access to them, the alternative of using only one password for every account could be even more dangerous. In addition to that, having two-step authentication to access your password manager is a good idea. Password applications can also randomly generate a strong password, so you don't have to spend effort on coming up with a unique code for every single account you have.
As mentioned above, there are many password managers to choose from to help you improve your network security. 1Password is a popular program that stores passwords while also accessing passwords that are already on the user's web browser. LastPass was one of the first password managers to debut back in 2008, and it works with web browsers as an extension, remembering the passwords you use for your accounts. Passpack is another handy program designed with businesses specifically in mind, where managers have tighter control over who has access to certain passwords.
Improving your business's security is certainly not easy, but it's best to start with what many consider the first line of defense. Passwords can protect your accounts and business data, but only if they're used effectively. Hackers like an easy target and having difficult-to-crack passwords can persuade them to look elsewhere. With your passwords well taken care of, you'll be able to focus on other aspects of security, making for a much safer environment for your business.