To ensure faultless protection of corporate networks and data, companies will need to begin with an honest assessment of their Internet security own fundamentals. While hacktivists and advanced persistent threats may be grabbing headlines, one of the most important disciplines to maintain is still strong password management. Password Genie recently released an infographic highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of certain combinations and explaining how to safely manage these passwords across multiple accounts.
According to the infographic, users are deviating from accepted best practices in a wide variety of ways. Seven in 10 users still rely on passwords that contain six or fewer characters, 40 percent use lowercase letters only and less than 4 percent include a special character. Combine this with the fact many are still using personally relevant numbers and phrases, and the task becomes even easier for savvy cybercriminals.
"Your name or birthday, common words, and other easy-to-remember combinations are those most likely to be discovered and bypassed," ThinkDigit's Stephanie Mlot explained. "Also, friends' and family members' names, words in the dictionary, and common names (John, Robert, Elizabeth, Jennifer) are no-nos, as are repeating your username/login information or simply swiping the keyboard ('qwerty' or 'asdfgh')."
One of Password Genie's most telling findings was the fact that the average six-character, all-lowercase password could be cracked within 10 minutes using widely available cybercriminal tools. Considering the efficiency with which hackers can now operate, companies should be thinking twice about whether the same old password combinations are enough to guard their most sensitive assets.
Improving password security
There are plenty of subtle nuances that can be applied for added strength, but according to PC Magazine, there are a few key considerations that will always hold true.
- Use a different password for each website or application. This way, one compromised code won't affect multiple accounts.
- Avoid some of the more common passwords, such as "012345," "password", and other simple combinations that could be easily guessed.
- Change passwords frequently to further mitigate the potential impact of any compromised accounts.
For users feeling a bit overwhelmed by having to create and remember perhaps dozens of unique combinations, password managers like LastPass of DirectPass could be the answer. These programs can securely store login credentials for all accounts and even help generate complex and random passwords. Luckily, all the user has to remember is a single master code that restricts access to the software.
Data Security News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro