Top five tips for password security

Monday 11 March 2013

All too often, businesspeople and home PC users can get complacent where IT security is concerned. Just because your systems have never been hacked, it does not mean they are immune. It is vital to take the necessary precautions nonetheless.

In terms of ensuring the integrity of your network and data, strong passwords are the first line of defence. They prevent prying eyes from gaining access to confidential and sensitive data, ensuring the long-term viability of your business.

As such, it is important to ensure you use a great password to prevent unauthorised entry to all PCs and devices. Creating a password that is near-impossible to guess should be a straightforward task, as is inputting it each time you log on. But it could make all the difference where business continuity is concerned.

Here are our top five tips for password security:

1.      Avoid common passwords

Some passwords are relatively easy to guess - simply because so many people use them. Out of laziness more than anything else, many PC owners use their company name, 'password', 'admin' or '123456' as their access code. In many other instances, the password field is left entirely blank, meaning anyone can log on to the system.

2.      Avoid using family names

People often use family names, or those of their pets, as their PC password. Particularly in the social media age, it may be relatively simple for hackers to establish the names of close relatives and friends, allowing these to be tested as potential passwords. Choosing a word with no obvious connection to you - preferably one that is not even in the dictionary - is a much safer option.

3.      Use a mix of letters and numbers

The most difficult passwords to work out are those which include both letters and numbers mix in together. These passwords will not be found in any custom dictionary as they do not exist - other than in your imagination and as a system entry code. Just make sure you have a way of remembering the password, or a very safe place to keep a written version - one that is well away from your PC or mobile device.

4.      Keep different passwords

Although it may create something of a memory challenges at first, creating different passwords for each account you have is a sensible idea. For instance, you should not use the same code to access your PC and your online banking - if one password is hacked, it could leave other personal and company accounts exposed.

5.      Refresh your passwords

It is advisable to change passwords regularly, several times a year if possible. A good habit to get into, this further reduces the risk of your accounts getting hacked. It may well be that you never attract the attention of malicious third parties, but it always better to be safe than sorry where IT security is concerned.

Posted by Alex Boardman