MERIT Solutions Blog

MERIT Solutions has been serving the Chesapeake area since 1982, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Is Your Password Security Up to Par?

Is Your Password Security Up to Par?

Passwords are all over the place these days, whether they’re required to access an online account, or access the devices used to open these accounts. While both types of passwords can make for ideal security conditions, this is only the case if the passwords are strong. If your passwords can be guessed by just about anyone, can you really call it a security measure? New insights from SplashData show that passwords aren’t being considered as much as they need to be.

SplashData collected and examined passwords that were leaked in 2017, resulting in the most common passwords being “123456” and “password.” These also happened to be the most cracked passwords for the past four years. The University of Phoenix’s annual cybersecurity survey has also provided some interesting insights:

  • Only 42 percent of Americans use different passwords across different websites.
  • Only 35 percent regularly update their passwords.
  • Only 24 percent update their passwords before they have to travel.

Furthermore, 43 percent of adults have experienced a data breach over the past three years, and 29 percent of workplaces have password protection as an official part of their cybersecurity policies. While these statistics aren’t the best situation, it’s important to understand why this is the case. One of the biggest issues regarding password security is that people don’t have enough confidence in their ability to remember complex passwords. This is augmented by the fact that multiple passwords are needed to ensure all accounts are secure. You can use some tips and tricks to remember them, though.

Passcodes
A random string of letters, numbers, and symbols simply isn’t user-friendly or easy to remember. When you’re restricted by length and content requirements, implementing a password that is easy to remember is borderline impossible. Since you don’t want to use just a single word either, you can boost the security of your password by lengthening it into a passphrase--sort of like a secret phrase that you, and only you, should know.

For example, the phrase “starwars” was one of the most used passwords in the SplashData survey. If information on a user’s social media profile indicates that they are a Star Wars fan, a cybercriminal could use this information to guess the password and cause all sorts of trouble. By lengthening your password into a full sentence, like “I really like star wars,” you can drastically improve security for your account.

Substitution
If security is a further issue, you can improve the strength of your passwords by replacing numbers and symbols for specific letters. For example, the previous example of “I really like Star Wars” can be changed to “1 really l!ke St@r W@rs.” This makes it more difficult for a hacker to guess the password.

Implement a Password Manager
The security industry is completely aware of how difficult passwords are to remember. This is why password managers have become a major implementation of any security-minded organization. Instead of having to remember multiple complex passwords, a password manager provides a secure vault for storage of any complex passwords, all of which are controlled by a master password.

Does your business need help with cybersecurity? MERIT Solutions has the solution. To learn more, reach out to us at (757) 420-5150.

 

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Friday, June 22 2018

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