How Safe Is Your Password? Guidelines Every Employee Should Follow

Have you ever wondered how much work a hacker would have to put in to crack your accounts? Maybe you’ve pictured them hunched over their computer, furiously typing away as they try to guess your security questions.

Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but a hacker could probably find your password in their sleep. Or at least find it for sale on the Dark Web. Research has found that the most common passwords in 2022 were:

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. 123456789
  4. guest
  5. qwerty

Nearly 25% of Americans use some sort of variation of those common passwords. And here’s one more stat to drive the point home: of the 27% of Americans who have tried to guess someone else’s password, 17% have done it correctly. 

Those were people with no formal training in cybersecurity or cybercrime. So, it looks like we’ve got a major password safety problem on our hands.

Signs Your Password Is Begging to Be Guessed

padlocks on wooden isolate backgroundIt’s time to take a closer look at the passwords we use and understand why they are so vulnerable. If you’re doing any of the things in this section, it’s time to tighten up your security.

You’re Not Using MFA

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is an extra layer of password safety that requires a second form of authentication, such as a texted code or biometric data. It’s one of the most effective ways to protect yourself against cyberattacks, and thankfully, it’s very easy to set up.

You’re Reusing the Same Password

We get it—it’s almost impossible to remember a new password for everything. We’ll cover a good way to get around this later, but, in the meantime, avoid reusing passwords. It’s the easiest way for hackers to gain access to your accounts.

It’s Written Down on Paper or in a Notes App

We’ve all been there at some point. You’re trying to avoid using the same password, but you know you can’t keep track of them all. So, you write it down somewhere or put it in a notes app on your phone.

This may seem like the perfect solution, but there are a few risks with keeping physical records of your passwords. Someone might get access to them if your paper or phone gets lost or stolen. 

And digital notes are vulnerable too—undetected malware can easily scrape your device and steal sensitive information.

You’ve Shared Your Password with Other Employees

It’s not uncommon for co-workers to share passwords in order to get work done. But if you’re sharing confidential information through vulnerable communication channels, it can be dangerous. Even with the best intentions, sharing your password could lead a malicious actor to your company data.

You’ve Shared Personal Information That’s Easy to Access

If your public Facebook profile shows that you’re a Michigan State alum and your password is “IloveMSU,” then, unfortunately, you’ve given a hacker one of the pieces they need to unlock your accounts.

It’s best to avoid using personal information as part of your passwords. Birthdays, anniversaries, addresses—these can all be used against you if someone is trying to guess your password.

Best Password Safety Guidelines You Can Apply Today

If you feel like password maintenance is a major drag, you’re not alone. In a recent study, 1Password found that 70% of Americans are frustrated by trying to remember their passwords. But here’s the thing—password safety is a necessary evil that will protect you from identity theft and potentially millions of dollars in data breach costs.

With that being said, there are six hassle-free things you can do to improve your password safety:

Implement MFA

MFA is one of the simplest and most effective forms of password safety. In just a few minutes, you can set up complex layers of authentication that will protect your accounts from unwanted access. 

Go into the different programs you use daily and look for 2FA or MFA options. You may need to download an app or confirm your phone number to receive secure messages. 

Use a Password Manager

We mentioned that we had a solution to reusing the same password over and over. The answer is password managers. Companies like 1Password make it easy to store a unique combination of letters, numbers, and symbols for each account you have.

Never Share Your Passwords

As tempting as it may be, never share your passwords with someone else. Even if they promise to keep it safe, you’ll have no way of knowing if they’ve given away access to anyone else or put your accounts at risk.

Use Physical Security Measures

If you have physical files or devices that contain sensitive information, it may be worth investing in extra security measures to protect them. This could include locks, alarms, cameras, and/or biometric authentication systems.

Don’t store your passwords on a notes app. If you have to write them down, make sure they stay locked up when you’re not using them.

Enlist the Help of a Managed Service Provider

Tools and software, like MFA, can work wonders for your password security. But it’s equally as important for your company to have consistent training, monitoring, and risk assessments in place. Consider enlisting the help of a managed service provider to make your employees your strongest line of defense.

Use a Combination of Letters, Numbers, and Symbols

This may seem like common sense but it’s one of the most important password guidelines you should follow. Strong passwords are long, random, and contain a combination of letters (upper- and lowercase), numbers, and symbols. The longer your passwords are, the more secure they will be.

Those passwords are, of course, harder to remember, so don’t forget our second tip and look into a password manager!

Your password may be the only thing between you and a cybercriminal, so it’s important to make sure it’s strong enough to withstand their attempts to break through your defenses.

Lock Your Passwords Down with Common Angle

Common Angle is here to help you implement password safety guidelines and protect your sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands. Our managed services are designed to provide you with the latest technology, monitoring, risk assessments, and training so that you can trust us to keep your accounts secure. 

Contact us today for a consultation!