Hacking passwords is a common practice with cybercriminal organisations. Possibly the biggest ever data breach to date occurred in August 2014 when a Russian gang hacked an estimated 1.2 billion usernames and passwords. The password is often the last line of defence between criminals and your work and life data. Still, so many people do not treat passwords seriously, until perhaps it’s too late.
Password protection is only effective against hacks if you are sensible when creating and using your password. The easiest way to make yourself vulnerable to being exploited by criminals or opportunists is to create an obvious password like PASSWORD 1 or 123456. These passwords are so prevalent that they are next to useless as a barrier for your security. So here are some tips in checking your password protection is effective.
Change, update and separate
The first thing you need to remember is to keep changing your password regularly. Automated prompts can be organised to send a reminder to change a password at monthly intervals. Also – do not use the same password across different accounts as you run the risk of a security breach turning into a far greater disaster.
Check for weaknesses and issues with your virus protection
Check your firewall does not have open ports. Also, if you have more than one virus checker programme running, they can clash. Make sure you scan regularly. Have a good quality, regularly updated anti-virus programme.
Size does matter!
Use longer passwords if you can. It was found by one US security firm, Trustwave, that an automated tool can crack an eight-character password randomly comprised of all four character types far quicker than a 28 character password only using lower and upper case. The difference is between 3.75 days for the former and 17.74 years for the later. That’s the value of making your password longer – it becomes exponentially harder to crack.
Mix it up
Passwords should have a mixture of numbers, letters, special characters and be case sensitive. Not using recognisable words is good also – the more random, the more effective it is at locking out anyone attempting to probe your data. Also, avoid using default passwords on your devices.
Encryption and backups
Use strong encryption on your wireless network. Don’t use your business name on the SSID of the wireless network. Make regular off-site, encrypted backups.
If you are working alone, or in charge of IT protocols and policies at a workplace – best to schedule password protection and basic firewall maintenance tasks on a calendar, to regularly check and update. It might save you from being hacked or from compromising your business.