Wednesday 04 September, 2013
There are constant stories in the news of major companies getting hacked. The main culprit behind most hackings isn’t a mastermind cyber-crook, but simply somebody being careless about their passwords. Proper password protection is an easy and extremely effective way to keep your business safe from cyber-attacks.
A Strong Password
It all starts with a strong password. ‘Strong’ means it’s hard for anybody to crack. The worst passwords are those that include personal information such as your name, your age, your birthday, or your kids’ or pets’ names. Anyone who knows anything personal about you can get through a password such as this.
A strong password is one that’s a random mix of letters and numbers. Punctuation is nice if you can use it, as well as a mix of lower and upper case if the system recognizes capitalization. Yes, it’s true that a totally random mix of letters and numbers is impossible to remember, but that’s the whole idea. If you can’t think of it, nobody else can either. ‘Remember’ it by saving it somewhere and copying and pasting whenever you log in.
A good way to create a totally random password that you can remember is to use the first letters in a song title or song lyrics.
For example, take the Rolling Stones’ ‘Start Me Up’ –
‘If you start me up I never stop.’
From this, you can create a password that looks like this:
Then, add some numbers. Now you have something nobody else can come up with, but that you can remember.
Change Is the Only Constant
Once you have your strong password, it’s time to change it. You should change passwords constantly. Don’t make it a once a year thing, but a once a week thing. The more you change your password, the safer your network will be. If someone has obtained your password, they won’t have it anymore by Friday.
Be extremely careful about where you keep your passwords and who sees them. I mentioned saving it in a file on your computer. An even better option is to cut it in half and save each half in a different file. You can also save it the old fashioned way by writing it down and hiding it well.
Whenever you allow someone access to your system, such as an employee or virtual assistant, change it immediately as soon as they’re done. Even for employees who you know and trust, you should do this because you can never be too safe.
Develop a Hacking Plan
Finally, develop a plan for if your site gets hacked. Most people don’t and then bemoan that they never thought it would happen to them. Hopefully it won’t, but if it does, you need to shut everything down, contact hosting services, and enact damage control.
Password protection is simple and requires no special skills or technology, but it’s something that goes a long way in protecting your business. Make sure you observe these rules strictly and you’ll virtually eliminate the risk.