The Foolproof Formula To Building A Secure Password

By: Jeremy Weisinger

It’s World Password Day! Now is the perfect time to take inventory of your passwords and see how well you’re protecting your online data. 

Today’s password standards might look a little different than what you’d expect. Keep reading on to discover password best practices that keep cyber threats at bay. 

What Kind Of Password Should I Be Using?

Complicated passwords like S3Ad!ther%PsD might sound secure, but we have all struggled to remember a long string of random characters that look like gobbledygook.  

While it’s hard to argue that a password like S3Ad!ther%PsD would get cracked, it's much easier to remember a meaningful phrase like HouseStarkForTheIroneThrone2019. According to LastPass, both options are “very strong” password candidates.  

Years ago, experts recommended that we change our passwords frequently, but now we know that’s not necessarily the case. Instead, the key lies in the complexity of a password. 

Consider this: you own a business and one of your cat-loving employees, Chester, uses “Fluffy12” as his password. Tabitha, who sits in the cubicle next to him, knows how much Chester loves his cat, Fluffy, and that he has a December birthday. See? It wasn’t that hard to guess Chester’s password. Tabitha doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, but if she did, she’d gain easy access to software programs and confidential data that she wasn’t meant to see. 

This potential disastrous scenario can be avoided by requiring employees to create complex passwords from the get-go. This simple best practice will help boost your organization’s cyber security. 

What Happens When A Service I Use Has A Cyber Security Breach?

If you have an account with a website or service that gets hacked, the first thing you should do is change your password.  When Target was hacked in 2013, millions of end users were affected. One of the first things users were instructed to do was change their target website passwords before a cyber threat hacks in. 

Unfortunately, cyber security breaches happen every day. It's essential to stay alert to the latest threats. If you’re questioning whether a service you use has been hacked, check out Troy Hunt’s Have I Been Pwned?

How Do I Make My Password Super Secure?

First off, do not do these things that can threaten the security of your password: 

  1. Store passwords in a document on your desktop under the name “My Passwords” 
  2. Write your workstation password on a sticky note on your workstation 
  3. Share your password with friends and coworkers 

It can be hard to manage multiple passwords for different websites and applications. Sometimes, we take shortcuts to manage login details, but these can lead to a cyber security breach. Using a password management service is a secure way to house and audit your passwords.  

Applications such as LastPass, DashLane and OnePassword hold passwords in a secure environment, all in one place. They also audit your existing passwords to ensure they’re up to today’s password security standards.  

For passwords that don’t lend themselves well to be in a password manager, still make them complex. Using a passphrase with a few tweaks can be remember-able but still secure. If you still feel you’ll have trouble remembering your password, write it down and store it in a safe place (wallet, locked drawer or safe, etc.). The main vector of attack is online so keeping a secure password written down and out of sight is immensely safer than using a bad password.

What Else Can I Do To Stay Cyber Secure?

It can be impossible to keep up with the latest cyber security protocol and threats. That's why many organizations are turning to managed services to have their cyber security maintenance and training dealt with externally, by pros.

Need Help?

If your organization’s cyber security isn’t up to snuff, you could be vulnerable to a cyber attack. Contact our team here or call us at 410.685.5512 to pinpoint where your organization’s cyber security could be improved.

Published May 7, 2020

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