The password is your company’s first line of defense against hackers and other security threats, especially if you rely on online accounting or marketing management systems. With so much of your business conducted virtually, you could be uniquely vulnerable to cyber-attacks. And if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you regularly make significant password mistakes that escalate your vulnerability.
According to a study from Google and the University of California Berkeley, nearly 250,000 passwords are compromised by hackers every week. Don’t become another statistic; avoid these common password mistakes.
Using Similar Passwords for Work and Home
We understand — it’s annoying to think up new passwords, and even worse to keep them all straight. Reused passwords offer a convenient shortcut, but that convenience could come back to haunt you. Your failure to create new and unique passwords could lead to cyber-attacks on multiple platforms. At a minimum, select different passwords for your personal and professional accounts.
Including Personal Information in Passwords
With social media updates constantly on display, it’s easier than ever for hackers to determine which personal topics will make it into your passwords. From high school mascots to pet names and even travel destinations, your password can easily be uncovered if it includes even a speck of personal information. Don’t assume that affixing random characters to a personal keyword will keep hackers at bay. Ideally, your entire password should be made up of random characters, not familiar words or phrases.
Rarely Updating Old Passwords — Or Changing Them Too Often
If you’re like most people, you have at least one trusty password you’ve used for several years. It’s worked until now, so why change it? Unfortunately, your reliance on old favorites could prove a real liability, especially if you use the same password across multiple platforms.
The good news? You don’t need to change passwords as often as you might think. Experts recommend selecting a strong password and then sticking with it for six months up to a year. Switch too often, and you may be tempted to swap just one or two characters rather than think of a more complicated (and therefore, effective) password.
Starting with an Uppercase Letter and Ending with a String of Numbers
Take a quick look at the following password examples:
All seem strong, right? These examples replace personal information or common names with random characters. Unfortunately, they remain shockingly easy for hackers to crack — they follow very predictable human patterns.
We’re accustomed to isolated numbers at the end of letter sequences. We also expect words to begin with uppercase letters. Naturally, we maintain these patterns when developing passwords. Instead, experts recommend mixing numbers and both lowercase and uppercase letters throughout each password — with other characters thrown in for good measure.
As a small business owner, you’re constantly at risk of suffering a devastating cyber-attack. Password protection is your first line of defense — don’t take it for granted.