Passwords are critical gatekeepers to our online information and identities, allowing us to access online shopping, dating, banking and social media. With so many people working at home due to the ongoing pandemic, often without the IT support and protection provided when in the office, cybersecurity is more important than ever and the basis of great cybersecurity is using strong passwords.
Small to medium-sized business’ computers and mobile devices (such as tablets and phones) access, share and store huge amounts of information that’s important to its enterprise and its work, finances, employees and customers. Sadly, this data isn’t always safe from prying eyes, even when tucked away in some supposedly hard-to-reach, password-protected places.
According to the UK’s Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), smaller enterprises are collectively subject to almost 10,000 cyber-attacks a day. One in five small firms say they’ve suffered a cyberattack in the last two years. What’s more, the annual cost of such IT security attacks to the small business community is estimated to be £4.5 billion.
The FSB research highlights the scale of the problem: one in three small firms say they have not installed security software over the past two years; four in ten do not regularly update their software or their IT systems or back up their data, and fewer than half have a strict password policy for devices.
Says Luis Navarro, Co-Founder of London based IT support experts Totality Services:
“At Totality, we appreciate passwords are the bane of modern life! But we can’t stress how important they are to keep both your personal and business data secure. Creating strong, easy to remember but hard to crack versions can seem a challenge. However, it’s actually easier than you think. In reality, you don’t need a random jumble of numbers, letters and symbols to keep the cybercriminals at bay. Hopefully these easy to digest and implement tips can help us stay safe online, not just this World Password Day, but for the foreseeable future.”
To help small to medium-sized businesses, and the general public alike, keep their information and data secure this World Password Day, and throughout 2021, Totality Services – London’s leading and award-winning IT support experts – has shared their top password tips and tricks.
8 tips to choosing a safe password
- Avoid common phrases, techniques or keyboard paths, such as 1234567, password or qwerty
- Never include any company-related words and other guessable words such as pet names, hobbies, or supported sports teams
Avoid using whole words such as dictionary words, names of famous people, relatives, date of birth or pet names as hackers use programs that perform a dictionary attack. So, if a word is in the dictionary or on your social media profile then you shouldn’t use it – more targeted attack might check things like pet names, relatives and birthdays first.
Remember that the more characters you use, the more secure your password is
Include a variety of characters, from at least one lowercase letter and one uppercase letter to a number and four symbols (but NOT the symbols &%#@_)
Never use a password in more than one place
Ensure passwords are changed at least once a year, ideally every quarter
Use a password manager which will help you and your team to create, store and share passwords
In summary, ensure you use passwords and the more obscure the better. They should be long and difficult to crack, contain a mix of upper and lowercase letters, and include numbers and symbols.
You should also use a unique username and password for every separate online account – using LastPass (or a similar solution), will help store all your passwords securely.