It’s a sign of the times that we have a day designated as World Password Day. On May 6th, organizations around the world are reminding users of the importance of a strong password.
Many people still overlook the power of their passwords and naively assume that a simple sequence such as bigblackcat or qwerty1234 protects them from cybercriminals. Regardless of your industry or your organization’s level of built-in cybersecurity protection, simple passwords are nothing but trouble for your employees, network, and data.
It’s important that every password your employees use is unique and uses a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. This includes not just the passwords employees use to login to your network, email, and cloud applications but also their personal passwords for social network sites, personal email, online banking, and e-commerce sites.
Remember, company employees can access both personal and company websites and apps on company laptops, smartphones, and mobile devices and personal equipment if you have a BYOD policy. Every login is a chance for a cybercriminal to hack into the company network and steal data.
Take advantage of World Password Day to remind your users of the risks that come with passwords and provide them with actionable advice on how they can create strong passwords. As part of your security awareness training and campaigns, use micro- and nano-learnings targeted to password security and newsletters and posters to remind employees of the fundamentals of a strong password.
Create a Strong Password in Seven Easy Steps
- Do not use sequential numbers or letters
For example, do not use 1234, qwerty, jklm, 6789, etc.
- 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. (e.g. M0l#eb9Qv? uses a unique combination of upperand lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.)
- Do not include your birth year or birth month/day in your password
Remember that cybercriminals can easily find this information by snooping into your social media accounts.
- Combine different unrelated words in your password or passphrase
This makes it difficult for cybercriminals 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- Do not reuse your passwords
Every device, application, website and piece of software requires a unique and strong password or PIN. Remember, if a cybercriminal does guess one of your passwords, they will use this to attempt to hack into all of your personal and professional accounts.
Never share your passwords with anyone. This includes your colleagues, the IT/support team, customer service/helpdesk personnel, family members and friends.