January is here, and we’re two weeks into the New Year. As we resolve to visit the gym, eat healthy and improve our finances, it’s also an ideal time to consider our digital life and ensure that we are taking all the necessary precautions to make sure that our data is safe and protected from unauthorized access, fraud, and identify theft. Network security must be addressed at every level of an organization. Personal and employee passwords are a vital component of your company’s security policy, both easy to implement and effective at keeping unwanted intruders at bay.
Take a look at the list below of the top 25 most common passwords from 2011. SplashData, a popular password management application company complied these passwords and ranked them according to how common they are. While these passwords are easy to remember, they are also easy to guess. If your password is on this list, you may be leaving yourself open to one of computer hackers most simple but effective tools, guesswork. While many sophisticated methods of stealing passwords do exist, attackers often try the most common passwords first before moving onto more advanced methods.
For 2012, consider encouraging the members of your organization to select secure and strong passwords. Such passwords typically have the following characteristics:
- Minimum of 8 characters
- Different types of characters
– Letters (upper and lower case), numbers and special characters (!, #, @, _, &)
- Different passwords and user names for multiple sites or programs
– Could be a different password or a variation of an existing one
Using different passwords and user names may seem too difficult to remember and unnecessary to some. However, a recent security incident at online shoe retailer Zappos underscores the importance of password security. Just this week, hackers gained access to Zappos customer database and managed to steal data belonging to 24 million customers. “The hackers will be crunching the password data to identify where weak passwords have been used — as those users often reuse passwords,” says Stina Ehrensvard, CEO of authentication hardware maker Yubico. “We’re highly likely to see the data being used elsewhere on the Internet in the coming days.”
Users that have trouble remembering many different passwords might consider using a password management application such as SplashID from SplashData or LastPass. These applications can run on computers, smartphones or even web browsers to securely store multiple passwords. Additionally, random password generators such as StrongPasswordGenerator are helpful tools for producing strong passwords. There are some additional guidelines for strong passwords on this site as well.
Many server-based computer networks can be configured to require users to select passwords based on you company’s security policy, including the strong password criteria above. If you are not sure if your network supports strong password configuration or if you would like some assistance in setting it up, please contact Rocket IT. We are happy to help!
Matt Hyatt is the Founder and CEO of Rocket IT, the IT department for all kinds of organizations around Gwinnett. His award-winning firm provides both the strategy and support needed to help businesses thrive.
Matt currently serves on the Executive Board of the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce as the Vice Chair of Entrepreneurship & Small Business, is an active supporter of Gwinnett County Public Schools, and is a member of several peer groups (like Entrepreneurs’ Organization) in addition to cofounding two of his own. In 2014, Matt was awarded the Pinnacle Small Business Person of the Year.
Outside of work, Matt enjoys spending time with his wife, Maureen, and their two teenage children pursuing their shared passions for photography, travel, and food. He also regularly runs with a team in ultra-long distance relay races.