Passwords. We can’t get through the day without them.
From logging into our social media accounts to managing our online banking, those little strings of letters and numbers are necessary for just about any activity we conduct online.
This is especially true when we think about how many passwords we use throughout our working days. Consider how many systems, platforms, apps and websites you log into each week for work. Now ask yourself: are these passwords all created, stored and accessed securely?
We know they’re important. We know they keep our data safe. And we know they should be strong and complex to avoid our data being stolen.
Yet, when faced with the ‘choose password’ field, it’s always tempting to create a password we’ve used before. One we’re confident we’ll remember in the future. After all, we’ve all faced the frustration of repeatedly trying to guess a password only to be locked out of an account we need access to right now.
But, be warned, reusing passwords is an extremely risky strategy. When websites encounter a cyber-attack and data is stolen, the cyber criminals can then try those same passwords on other websites. So, if you’ve used the same password across multiple different accounts, you could be giving cyber criminals access to a lot of important financial and personal data, from online banking to work email accounts. If they have your password, it’s likely they also have your email address, username, and other personal information too.
The importance of strong passwords
Typically, we often opt for weaker passwords on websites we don’t think matter as much, for example our gym or library accounts. Then, we take care to choose stronger passwords for websites we deem more important, such as online banking.
The problem is that any website, no matter it’s size or purpose, can be at risk from cyber criminals. And once they have your data from one source, they can then use it elsewhere.
In fact, even if you have followed the rules and used different passwords on different websites, cyber criminals may still be able to access your other personal data. For example, they can click ‘forgotten password’ on subsequent sites, therefore bypassing the need for a password. They may need to input other personal data in order to change your password, for example a date of birth, which they can easily access through your social media accounts (if you don’t have the correct privacy settings in place). This is why it’s crucial that you have every measure in place to protect your passwords and prevent your data from being stolen.
If you’ve fallen into the habit of using weak passwords, or re-using the same password, you’re not alone. Security experts have found that the majority of people use the same weak password repeatedly across multiple different platforms. In fact, cyber security experts Data Prot, found that, in 2020, 51% of people use the same passwords for both work and personal accounts, therefore putting their business data at risk. Moreover, 53% of people rely on their memory to manage passwords, meaning their passwords are often short, weak and repeated.
Creating strong passwords
Everyone knows that passwords need to be lengthy, complicated, and varied in order to boost their security. As mentioned, it’s critical that you create different passwords for each individual account you use. At Netstar, above all else, we recommend using a password generator to create your passwords for you; this will ensure that they’re safe and secure. If you’re using a reputable password manager, it should have a built-in password generator function making it easy and efficient to create new, secure passwords.
Importantly, passwords generated by a password generator will be:
- Long – at least 10 characters but ideally more
- A combination of numbers, letters, cases and symbols
- Unpredictable with no recognisable words, e.g. [email protected]@t would be considered a weak password, whereas ZUas=.4r%VzA is strong
As well as using a password generator, we recommend adding extra layers of security to your passwords. Firstly by using a password manager to store your passwords, but also by implementing multi-factor authentication and dark web monitoring.
What is a password manager?
A password manager is an online tool that stores your login information for all the different websites you use. Once you’ve set up your account with a password manager, you’ll be able to log into other websites automatically – without needing to remember each individual password. The only password you’ll need to remember is the master password for the password manager tool.
Are password managers safe?
A high-quality password manager is safe because your information is encrypted, meaning only you can access your data and no one else can see or steal your passwords.
The best password managers also offer a host of other features, making your everyday experience of using the web easier and simpler.
Which is the best password manager?
At Netstar, we recommend Keeper to all of our clients (all of our staff also use Keeper to store their passwords). Keeper is an award-winning password manager globally. They hold an abundance of market-leading certifications, including ISO 27001 and SOC, meaning you can be sure that your data is safe.
In addition to their world-class level of security, Keeper also boasts a range of additional features that make managing your passwords more efficient.
Why should I use Keeper for managing my passwords?
1. Securely and efficiently store all of your passwords
Employees simply store all passwords and login credentials in Keeper. When they want to navigate to a certain website or application, they simply ‘launch’ the platform, automatically signing them in. This means employees don’t need to worry about forgetting or recording passwords and they spend less time typing in login details for each individual platform.
2. Customisable to suit your business
You can customise the way your employees use their password manager to suit the needs of your business. This includes:
- Adding employees to groups to simplifying the sharing of passwords
- Implementing requirements for new passwords, in terms of length and complexity
- Enabling multi-factor authentication to further enhance security
- Restricting, allowing, or sharing access to login credentials dependant on employee or team
3. Consistently monitors the dark web
Keeper will constantly scan the dark web for your login credentials. If login credentials are found exposed, the employee and administrators will be immediately alerted so that passwords can be changed and data kept secure.
4. World-class security
Keeper has proven world-class, award-winning cyber security standards meaning you can be confident that your data is safe. Additionally, all data is encrypted, meaning only authorised users can access their login credentials.
5. Fewer weak passwords
Having a password manager prevents employees from creating weak, short or similar passwords as they don’t need to worry about remembering or typing them in. Additionally, Keeper will alert employees immediately if the password they’re storing is too weak, meaning it can quickly be changed to enhance data security.
Keeper is the only password manager to provide maximum level security, whilst enabling you to scale to enterprise level without disruption. This means your passwords will remain secure as your business grows and develops.
7. Improved efficiency
Keeper’s browser extension makes logging in even quicker and will prompt users if they’re on a website that hasn’t been added to the password manager, meaning no login credentials ever get overlooked and forgotten. Additionally, employees can login to each platform straightaway without having to input individual login details, saving valuable time.
8. Assesses your password security
Keeper includes a security audit tab. This shows you (the specific employee and administrator) how strong or weak your passwords are. It will highlight weak passwords, recommending that they’re changed – making it easy to enhance your overall password security. You can also pull reports on password security across different individuals, teams and time periods to assess where extra security awareness training could be beneficial.
9. Easily generate passwords
Keeper has a built in password generator so you can generate safe and secure passwords as and when you need them.
10. Boosted employee satisfaction
Using a secure password manager takes the stress out of remembering and forgetting passwords – there’s nothing more frustrating than being signed out of an account because you can’t remember your password. Also, the chance of a data breach will be minimal, meaning employees won’t feel as much responsibility and anxiety regarding cyber-attacks.
Having a secure password policy contributes to GDPR compliance as well as other standard and industry-based security regulations.
12. Store more than just passwords
Keeper can also be used to store other important financial or personal data, such as credit cards. This means everything can be conveniently stored in one place with peace of mind that it’s safe and secure.
How do I get a password manager?
There are lots of different password managers available. Many offer free versions, but you can also upgrade to a paid account, depending on what features you need.
You may find that your web browser already comes with its own password manager tool. However, we don’t recommend relying on these as they are not as dependable as a dedicated password manager.
If you’re keen to introduce a safe and secure password manager to your business, we recommend speaking to your IT support provider for further advice about what the best option is for your business. To find out more about how Netstar can help you manage your passwords, get in touch today.
Getting started with a password manager
The first thing you’ll be asked to do when starting with most password managers is choose a master password. This one password will give you access to your whole database of other passwords – so it’s important to make it strong. The good news is that this will be the only password you’ll need to remember in the future. Most password managers will offer to generate a strong password for you, so you don’t need to agonise over which combination of letters and characters to choose.
Once your password manager is installed, you’ll be able to start changing your existing passwords across all your various accounts to ensure they are secure. Also, if you’re transferring from one password manager to another, you can easily export and import passwords to save time.
Creating strong passwords is one of the most important steps in protecting yourself against cyber-attacks – both at home and in your business. As cyber criminals develop ever-more sophisticated tactics to steal your data, it’s now more important than ever to create secure passwords.
There are methods which can be used to find out if your login credentials have ever become compromised, such as dark web monitoring.
It’s easy to fall into bad habits when creating new passwords but with a good password manager, you’ll uncover tools and tricks to help secure all your accounts and move forward with robust passwords, giving you the best defence possible against unwanted hacks.
Of course, in your business, strong passwords should be just one part of your cyber security policy. Attacks can come from other angles, so it’s important to put a security strategy in place to protect your business.
You can read more about Netstar’s cyber security solutions here.
We hope you’ve found this article useful! If you’d like to find out more about using a password manager get in touch today by filling out our contact form.