As we rely more and more on technology to run our organizations, it is becoming imperative to learn how that technology is also used against us. A secure environment to protect our customer data is our mission in IT support, and it is a never-ending challenge to evolve with threats as they emerge. There are a few ways you can focus on securing your data without compromising ease of use for your employees.
How Often Should You Change Your Password?
Most security recommendations initially start with changing your passwords frequently, usually every 90 days, but this seems to be the opposite of making it simpler for users to protect data. Frustrating employees who are inundated with remembering more passwords with increasing perplexity that leads to sticky notes plastered to monitors. It doesn’t take much thought to realize this is a horrible practice, but one that can almost be forgiven understanding the current restrictions!
There are several ways to overcome this problem, the first is obvious, simply extend the length of time between password updates. We recommend using “passphrases” vs. passwords simply because end users can more easily remember a phrase or sentence than a complex password like “Pa55w0Rd1SE4”. Consider a phrase like “Cole’s Law is thinly sliced cabbage!”. It has 36 characters, includes special characters, spaces, and most of all it’s silly and wouldn’t be something included in a brute force attack dictionary. Brute force dictionaries are lists of phrases and words that are created by hackers to insert into the password field repeatedly until the attacker gains access to an account. Brute force dictionaries include words like Password123, 12347890, even one-word names like Benji or Jesus. Using your login name, they constantly push a different password via the dictionary until they find a hit to gain access to your network.
The Top 25 Most Common Passwords
Using A Firewall
There are other ways to prevent intrusion by spending wisely on a firewall that will detect an attack by watching for the use of repeated attempts at a password for an account or signs of remote attack on the organization. These scans look for common programs or flaws in the operating systems to gain access to the system. Think of a doorbell that announces to the entire world that no one is home and to try the back door. What a disaster that would be! But that is exactly what happens in situations like these.
A good firewall, with a great monitoring and support, is a sure fire way to prevent most attacks. We don’t recommend consumer grade hardware that you find at discount electronics stores for this purpose since they are not built to handle the number of requests that even a small business produces. This will inevitably cause problems like network slowdowns, causing you to reset the router frequently. Invest in your infrastructure to protect your data, with several entry-level products that will give you superb protection for a reasonable price.
Another simple way to keep employees productive is to provide a Single Sign-On service (SSO) to manage all application logins from a single interface. Login in once on the company intranet and get signed into all of your business applications with one password. These services have added hundreds of applications to their repository over the years and are quite effective at managing passwords and logins making employee password management a breeze to maintain. Whatever direction you choose for your organization it’s important to remember that there is always more than one way to stay safe, without sacrificing a huge budget to achieve your security goals.