There’s been a lot of news about data hacks in the media recently. These hacks can seriously affect both a business’s reputation and it’s relationship with customers, and so every business owner is currently scrutinizing their tech for security issues. However, when it comes to creating extra-safe infrastructure, many people overlook the simplest key to a secure network: which is ensuring every user has a reliable password. A lot of this is due to fear of the unknown. When many people picture hackers, they picture super-intelligent, unbeatable tech whizzes- the kind of people who help action heroes enter the enemy lair by disabling laser paths and overriding security systems.

[av_image src=’http://www.848.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/hacking-1030×495.jpg’ attachment=’46306′ attachment_size=’large’ align=’center’ styling=” hover=” link=” target=” caption=’yes’ font_size=” appearance=’on-hover’ overlay_opacity=’0.4′ overlay_color=’#cccccc’ overlay_text_color=’#ffffff’ animation=’no-animation’]
Negative Space via Unsplash
[/av_image]

Passwords don’t seem much use against Q sending James Bond somersaulting his way into your building. And yet, a great deal of data leaks stem from something as simple as a password being breached.  You- and your staff- are the first line of defence against external influences. And whilst you should certainly check the security status of your infrastructure and your applications, making air-tight secure passwords is an easy step to re-enforce your company’s cyber security.

[av_heading heading=’For personal passwords, avoid important dates, names, or places.’ tag=’h3′ style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#3fa3cf’][/av_heading]

Your children may be cute, but their names and birthdays are easy guesses. Take a quick scan of your social media- it’s easy for anyone to learn the name of your kids, partner, or pets by just adding you on Facebook or scrolling your twitter feed.

[av_heading heading=’Don’t fall into the trap of having a ‘department’ account. ‘ tag=’h3′ style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#3fa3cf’][/av_heading]

Sometimes, instead of everyone having an individual account on a website, a department account is created to make life easier, and the login details are widely circulated. Eventually even the cleaner knows the password to any account in the sales department is ‘John67’ after the guy who created it 2 years ago. Department accounts make it so hard to keep tabs on who is allowed to access what, so make sure everyone involved has their own account. When it’s unavoidable to have a shared account, at pick a complicated password, and change it regularly.

[av_heading heading=’Be careful where, and with who, you share your password.  ‘ tag=’h3′ style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#3fa3cf’][/av_heading]

[av_two_third first]Don’t share it with coworkers, and only input it into secure websites and trusted apps. If you’re unsure whether a website’s safe, look out for the HTTP:// icon next to the URL.[/av_two_third]

[av_one_third] [av_image src=’http://www.848.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/https-300×150.png’ attachment=’45006′ attachment_size=’medium’ align=’center’ styling=” hover=” link=” target=” caption=” font_size=” appearance=” overlay_opacity=’0.4′ overlay_color=’#000000′ overlay_text_color=’#ffffff’ animation=’no-animation’][/av_image] [/av_one_third]

[av_heading heading=’Use a different password for each website.  ‘ tag=’h3′ style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#3fa3cf’][/av_heading]

This is an obvious one- if an outsider gets access to one of your accounts, they have access to them all.

[av_heading heading=’Don’t use plain language. ‘ tag=’h3′ style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#3fa3cf’][/av_heading]

Aim to make them over 8 characters long and a combination of numbers, upper and lower case letters, and symbols. Turning ‘Balloons’ into ‘Ba1100n$’ may make your password look stupid, but it also makes it harder to guess.

[av_heading heading=’Please, please, PLEASE, don’t use obvious passwords.’ tag=’h3′ style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#3fa3cf’][/av_heading]

These include ‘Password’, ‘QWERTY’, or ‘123456’. I’m begging you. To illustrate how common this is, take a look at the 30 most common passwords discovered in the Ashley Madison hack this year… (some censored due to profanity)

[av_image src=’http://www.848.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/worst-ashley-madison-passwords-censored.png’ attachment=’45015′ attachment_size=’full’ align=’center’ styling=” hover=” link=” target=” caption=” font_size=” appearance=” overlay_opacity=’0.4′ overlay_color=’#000000′ overlay_text_color=’#ffffff’ animation=’no-animation’][/av_image]

[av_heading heading=’Try using acronyms if you struggle to remember the password. ‘ tag=’h3′ style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#3fa3cf’][/av_heading]

If your dog is called Spot and he is 4 years old, don’t just use ‘Spot4’. Try condensing a sentence into a password by taking the first letter from each word: ‘My Dog is Called Spot And He Is 4’ can become ‘MDICSAHI4’, which is much more difficult to guess.

[av_heading heading=’Never, ever write your password down. ‘ tag=’h3′ style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#3fa3cf’][/av_heading]

Use something like Passpack to store them securely.

[av_heading heading=’Use a password randomiser to generate passwords. ‘ tag=’h3′ style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#3fa3cf’][/av_heading]

If your memory is good enough to remember a random combination, or you have the patience to log into passpack every day, then a randomiser is the way to go. Make them un-guessable, limit the chance of losing them!

[av_hr class=’default’ height=’50’ shadow=’no-shadow’ position=’center’ custom_border=’av-border-thin’ custom_width=’50px’ custom_border_color=” custom_margin_top=’30px’ custom_margin_bottom=’30px’ icon_select=’yes’ custom_icon_color=” icon=’ue808′ font=’entypo-fontello’]

Secure passwords can make all the difference.  
You can read more on maintaining digital security here.