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Your Guide to Creating Strong Passwords

In the fight to protect your data, your company network and your personal information, secure passwords can make all the difference. And because October is National Cybersecurity Awareness month, in our ongoing cybersecurity series, this week we're unlocking the mystery to creating strong passwords.

Beware: modern hackers are sophisticated

The unsettling truth is that hackers and cybercriminals are very good at what they do, and they're getting more sophisticated by the minute. So, while you may picture a hacker as a hoodie-covered criminal crouched over a laptop in a dark basement, that picture may not truly reflect how hackers operate these days. In fact, much password hacking has gone automated, meaning possible combinations of phrases, words, numbers, and symbols can be attempted in bulk in a matter of seconds. Take a wrong step in setting up your passwords, and with the technology hackers have on hand, you could become easy prey.

How to Create strong passwords

Many of us know the importance of choosing secure passwords, but don't quite know how to get there (other than watching that bar on the screen move from red to green!) Rest assured, creating strong passwords is easier if you follow these guidelines.

1. Select longer passwords.

As a general rule, the shorter the password, the easier it is to hack. Select passwords that are 12 or more characters in length.

2. Choose a mix of upper and lowercase letters.

Case sensitive passwords are strongest when you choose a mix of both upper and lowercase.

3. Also choose symbols and numbers.

Limiting your passcodes to words alone can make them easier to crack. Randomly add in symbols as well as numbers to create a complex password.

4. Change your passwords frequently.

Some businesses will remind employees to change their passwords at specific intervals. Whether or not your business does this, it's important to change them up frequently. Aim to change all of your passwords every 90 days or less.

5. Leverage multi-factor authentication.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) ensures that the person logging into your account has physical access to another device of yours, such as a cell phone. This offers a higher level of protection for your network and data.

What to avoid when choosing passwords

Using the above tips will help you create secure passwords and keep your information safe. However, there are some additional points you'll want to make note of. These are the things you should avoid when selecting your passwords.

  • Phone numbers
  • common phrases
  • names
  • birthdays
  • consecutive numbers
  • using the same password across several internet sites and accounts
  • Information that can readily guessed/found via social media
Cybersecurity training for your staff

Hackers are at the top of their game; to protect your business, your employees should be too. Help them stay up to date on current threats and how they can recognize them, with cybersecurity training. Secure passwords are an essential component, but they're just the start of a robust cybersecurity strategy. Our Locknet Managed IT experts can customize security training that accommodates the unique needs of your business. Contact us to learn more about security training options for your employees or download a free infographic to share with your employees.