(6 min read)
Follow these 7 strong password best practices
On May 7th every year, organizations around the world remind their end users of the importance of a strong password. But, with remote workforces the new normal and a sharp increase in the amount of information exchanged digitally on a daily basis, strong password best practices must be everyone’s priority year-round.
Despite the increased public importance placed on data security, there’s a large portion of the global population using weak password to secure their professional and personal accounts. As per Google, 24% have used the word “password,” “Qwerty” or “123456” as their account password, while only 34% change their passwords frequently.
Why is this an issue? Well, regardless of your industry or your organization’s level of built-in cyber security protection, simple passwords are nothing but trouble for your employees, network, and data. If they’re easily guessed by a hacker, login data for your network, email, cloud applications, as well as personal passwords for social network sites, personal email, online banking, and e-commerce sites may be compromised.
Every login is a chance for a cyber criminal to hack into the company network and steal data.
For added support, share strong password tips, advice, and best practices with users in newsletters, posters, and emails. Download the Strong Password Kit for more password resources that you can share with those who access your systems.
Remember These Strong Password Best Practices
Cyber criminals know that most people create passwords that are easy to remember and will often reuse the same password across multiple accounts. Because of this, all it takes is hacking into one account to easily access the rest of the accounts.
Please take a few minutes to review these seven strong password best practices and to create new passwords for any accounts that do not follow these password guidelines:
1. Do not use sequential numbers or letters
For example, do not use 1234, qwerty, jklm, 6789, etc.
2. Do not include your birth year or birth month/day in your password
Remember that cyber criminals can easily find this information by snooping into your social media accounts.
3. Use a combination of at least eight letters, numbers, and symbols
The longer your password and the more character variety it uses, the harder it is to guess. For example, M0l#eb9Qv? uses a unique combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
4. Combine different unrelated words in your password or passphrase
This makes it difficult for cyber criminals to guess at your password. Do not use phrases from popular songs, movies, or television shows. Use three or four longer words to create your passphrase. For example, 9SpidErscalKetobogGaN.
5. Do not use names or words found in the dictionary
Substitute letters with numbers or symbols to make it difficult to guess the password. Or deliberately use spelling errors in the password or passphrase. For example, P8tty0G#5dn for “patio garden.”
6. Use a password manager to store your passwords
Do not store your passwords in a document on your computer. Make sure you’re using the password manager tool provided to you by the IT/support team to store all professional and personal passwords.
7. Do not reuse your passwords
Every device, application, website, and piece of software requires a unique and strong password or PIN. Remember, if a cyber criminal does guess one of your passwords, they will use this to attempt hack into all of your personal and professional accounts.
Remember never to share your passwords with anyone. This includes your colleagues, the IT/support team, customer service/helpdesk personnel, family members, and friends.
Also, be aware of phishing emails, smishing texts, and vishing calls that ask for your password information – do not reply or provide any personal information including your password, date of birth, address, or credit card details.
Information You Should Never Include in Your Passwords
When updating and creating new passwords, please do not include the following information in your passwords:
- Your pet’s name.
- Your birthday or that of family members.
- Any words related to your hobby, job, or interests.
- Part of your home address including, city/town, street, house/apartment number, or country.
- Your name or the name of a family member.
Cyber criminals research their victims online looking for clues that can help them hack your password. And they will any clues about you, where you live, your interests, and your family to strategically guess at your password.
If any of your passwords use any information linked to you personally, please take a few minutes to update your passwords following our strong password best practices.
How To Keep Your Social Media Password Protected and Secure
Many websites, applications, and tools now allow you to login using your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media account. This adds convenience to the average web user’s experience since you do not need to create a new username and password. However, using this feature makes you vulnerable to social network data breaches.
Once a cyber criminal has your Facebook account credentials, they can access any other websites, applications, or tools that you have logged into with Facebook.
Five tips on how to keep your social network passwords protected and secure
- Do not reuse passwords and change them frequently. Even though you have created a strong password, don’t reuse it across multiple social networks, websites, and applications.
- Use a password management tool to store your passwords. Use the password management tool provided to you by the IT/support team. Use this to store personal and professional passwords. Some of the most popular password managers are Dashlane, Keeper and LastPass. Do not store your passwords in a file on your computer or smartphone.
- Use two-factor authentication. If a cyber criminal does guess your social network username and password, two-factor authentication forces the criminal to provide a secure PIN to log in. You will receive a notification of the login attempt, alerting you that your password has been hacked. If you receive this notification email or text, refuse access, and change both your password and username immediately.
- Do not login to accounts or websites with your Facebook or social network credentials. If your Facebook credentials are compromised, the hacker can now access any applications and websites which also use your Facebook login credentials.
- Pay attention to friend requests, chat messages, and new followers or friends. Be wary of Facebook friend requests from people you’re already friends with on Facebook or Instagram followers that have zero posts. Cyber criminals may hack your friend’s account, send you a friend request, and then start collecting information about you that can be used to hack your accounts. If your social network account is hacked, be public about it, and post something like “Alert, my account has been hacked. Do not respond to friend requests, direct messages, or chats from my account.”
Above all else, be suspicious and cautious. Do not trust emails promising you to reset your password. No company will ever send you an unprompted password reset or account validation email. If you’re in doubt about a friend request or chat message – ignore the message and contact your friend over email or text message to alert them to the suspicious request.
You are your best line of defense against cyber attacks and hacks. Create strong passwords. Remember to be wary of emails, text messages, and phone calls that use urgent language and/or promise you a special offer or free prize.
Protecting your data with a Strong Password Kit
Download this Strong Password Kit for more password resources that you can share with users.