We’ve seen the “hacking” scene that’s so popular in action movies: a hacker open their laptop and start frantically typing a random string of numbers and letters. Windows with green text flash across the screen. After a few minutes, the hacker says “I’m in!” Password cracked.
To commit a crime like this in real life, the audience thinks, surely you’d have to some kind of Bill Gates-esque computer genius. But in fact, websites and databases get hacked every day due to one simple error: poor password management.
What Is Password Management?
For years, we’ve heard the same tips and advice for password selection:
- Don’t use “password” or “password123.”
- Avoid using any variation of your real name.
- Do not write it down where others can see it.
- Refrain from using the same password for every account.
This might seem like common sense, whether you’re working for a major business or using a personal computer at home. And yet, countless security breaches have been caused by weak password security.
Often hackers don’t need to use fancy software or brute-forcing techniques. They can simply run a program that flashes through a database of thousands of common passwords until they find one that gets them inside. And once they’re in, your personal information–and the information of thousands of other people–are at risk.
Fear of Forgetting
Everyone knows the importance of choosing a strong password–and yet, many of us choose to ignore that advice because we’re afraid of forgetting our password.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center showed that poor password management is currently putting thousands of companies and individuals at risk.
We tell ourselves that it won’t happen to us, but it could. All it takes is one hacker with enough free time to figure out the basic passwords that are guarding people’s personal information. And once that news goes public, the company immediately gets a reputation as “weak” and “careless with people’s personal information,” causing their stock–and their reputation–to plummet. Read about password cracking in this post.
To prevent these kinds of catastrophes, it’s important:
- that employees in every level of the business use strong passwords that aren’t easy to guess
- use a different password for every application,
- make use of multi-factor authentication,
- and never share their password with others.
The best passwords are typically a random string of letters and numbers that would be hard to crack by anything but the most high-end software–and even then, it might be too much for the software to figure out.
Additionally, using a different password for every application ensures that even if a hacker guesses one password, they won’t automatically have access to all the data in the company.
When your business uses good password management, it gives everyone peace of mind knowing that they’re safe from the lower-end security breaches–and the smarter hackers might decide that it’s not worth the trouble.
Never compromise security
for convenience, choose both!
How Can Poor Password Management Affect Businesses?
Businesses talk about security but many of them have yet to implement strict safety procedures for some of their most sensitive data: their employees’ passwords.
They tell employees to be careful with their passwords, but don’t strictly enforce it. As a result, people choose weak passwords that could be easily guessed. They write their passwords on sticky notes and leave them taped to their monitor or lying around on their desk. Some share their passwords in emails and over the phone, and store them in easily accessible Excel spreadsheets. Others use the same password for every online account and application.
Even if 95% of the office uses good password management, it only takes one person to get hacked and give the hacker access to a wealth of private data.
The amount of damage done depends on the severity of the attack. Sometimes the hacker can only access lower-level information, which they might discard or use to commit petty crimes.
But, if they hack deeper into the system, they might release the employees’ personal data, leak private company emails, and collect sensitive data. They might also target the business’s software and attempt to destroy the mainframe.
In a sense, there’s no limit to what hackers can do–that information is out there somewhere, and they just need to figure out how to access it.
If the hacker gets access to personal information like credit card numbers and social security numbers, they can sell this information online to other criminals who want to steal people’s identities.
More Than Data Loss
When it gets to this point, it’s not just about data loss. Thousands of customers will be compromised, and the public’s faith in the company will plummet.
For example, US store Target famously paid an $18.5 million dollar settlement after their customers’ secure information was breached in 2013. That’s a massive loss for major companies, and smaller companies can’t afford that kind of catastrophe.
For this reason, good password management can mean the difference between your company staying safe while others are hacked, and your company shutting down because a giant settlement drained their funds.
What’s the Best Software for Preventing Security Breaches?
Teamstack offers a range of security features to protect your data and your company safe from potentially damaging breaches.
With multi-factor authentication, your users can verify their identity before they log in so you know exactly who’s signing on.
Teamstack offers IP blacklisting and whitelisting services so you can allow access to certain IPs while denying access to others.
Below are just some of the features:
- Set up security questions, define a strict list of password requirements
- Track users’ locations while they’re signed in, and restrict access to certain areas altogether.
- Enforce password policies for your employees and users.
Teamstack stores its information in a secure cloud database that can be accessed by anyone with the right credentials. From there, you can view your users’ activity logs and suspend users if you think something looks fishy.
Hackers tend to hide in plain sight, so don’t be afraid to keep track of your team. You can change your teammates’ permissions and decide which information they can view.
How Can I Use this Knowledge to My Advantage?
Now that you’re educated on the topic of password management, it’s time to revolutionize your company’s password security.
Change all your passwords, use a different password for each application, and consider switching to a platform like Teamstack that does all the hard security work for you.
Be a role model for your employees or co-workers and show them how good password management works to their advantage. Because it’s not just about us. It’s about our co-workers, our teammates, and customers that trust us to keep their data safe and secure.
And a single strong password can mean the difference between a crushing financial blow to your company, and a stellar reputation as a safe company to do business with.