Every week, hackers steal close to 250,000 web logins. They use these stolen credentials to commit costly data breaches.
As of 2020, weak or stolen passwords are responsible for the vast majority of hacking-related data breaches.
As cybercriminals advance their hacking strategies, enterprises continue to face a hard time coming up with reliable processes and controls for password management. But no organization can afford to be complacent when it comes to keeping their data safe.
Ensuring that every individual in your organization understands how to manage passwords is the most critical step in strengthening your security against threats. In this article, we discuss eight password policy best practices you can implement in your company.
Read on to learn more.
How to Manage Passwords
Given that cybercriminals mostly rely on stealing or cracking your password to access your data, it’s essential to adopt the best password practices that stop them on their tracks. You can do so by adopting the tips below.
Use Long and Strong Passphrases
A strong password makes it very hard for a hacker to break into your system. Experts recommend that you use more than eight characters, and the password be a combination of:
- Uppercase letters
- Lowercase letters
Passwords provide strong protection when they’re in the form of long paraphrases. Generating a password of up to 64 characters that includes spaces, for instance, can make it virtually impossible for even the most experienced hacker to hack into your system.
Avoid Changing Passwords Periodically
One of the commonest security practices in companies around the world is to require employees to change their passwords periodically. Many organizations tell their staff to change their logins every three, six, or 12 months.
Unfortunately, this practice can have the opposite effect of what you intend. That’s because users will usually repeat passwords they’ve used in the past or simply transform the ones they’re using currently. Even worse, most employees will write down their passwords to avoid forgetting them due to frequent changes.
So what should you do? Well, advise everyone to create a strong password in the beginning and to keep it. Only in cases of compromise or potential threat should you ask them to change their passwords.
Have a Password Blacklist
How do hackers crack your passwords? Well, they first begin by using the most popular passwords to guess your password. They also use dictionary passwords or any of your passwords that they may already have cracked.
One of the best password practices, therefore, is to create a password blacklist in your firm. This list gives all the passwords that your staff members should avoid using as they’re weak and easy to crack.
Make sure that you create a limit on how many failed attempts are allowed when attempting to log into an account. This way, you can detect and deter any suspicious people who try to access your data.
Have Two-Factor Authentication
Today, two-factor authentication is the de facto standard when it comes to managing access to a corporate server. Besides using the more conventional credentials such as usernames and passwords to access an account, users now have to confirm their identity by entering a code that’s sent to their email or mobile phone. In some situations, they have to use a personalized USB token.
The idea behind two-factor authentication is that in case a hacker cracks your password alone, it’s not enough for them to gain access. This password policy also enhances identity validation in case an employee tries to access sensitive data, critical endpoints, or wants to confirm certain transactions.
Implement Password Encryption
Encrypting passwords is another proven way to provide extra protection for your passwords, even if hackers happen to steal them. Avoid using reversible or one-way encryption. That’s because in case an attacker accesses your password database, they’ll easily crack and compromise passwords in it.
Insist on end-to-end encryption that’s non-reversible instead. This type of encryption provides protection for passwords in transit.
Avoid writing passwords in plain text and storing them in files in your database. These unencrypted passwords can land in the hands of hackers in case they’re somehow able to hack into your system.
Have Extra Protection for Accounts of Privileged Users
Any account that belongs to a privileged user must have extra protection as that account contains highly sensitive data. Such accounts also allow access to privileged actions.
The best way to protect these accounts is to provide privileged users with different login URLs. Also, ensure that the account provides only one login attempt. If there’s a failed login attempt, the account should immediately get locked to deter potential unauthorized access.
Make Use of Password Managers
Password managers are incredibly effective when it comes to password management. A reliable password manager is by far the safest way to store passwords. The tool stores and creates strong passwords for all of your accounts.
With a password manager, all you need to do is to remember one password. Your password manager will always automatically sign you in your accounts as soon as you log on. You can thus consider your password manager as a book that contains your passwords and is locked by a master password that you alone know.
And since most password managers have encrypted sync across multiple devices, you can conveniently take your passwords with you on your mobile devices wherever you go.
You can learn more about these tools on https://setapp.com/how-to/find-a-saved-wifi-password-on-mac.
Conduct Regular Staff Training
Many data breaches occur due to unsuspecting or negligent employees who open phishing emails. That’s why it’s crucial for an organization to take the time to train their staff on how to detect phishing and other attacks on social media. This way, they can stop attacks before they happen.
Train your employees on how to create and manage strong passwords, too.
You Can Implement a Reliable Password Protection Policy Today
The password management practices you have in your company determine how secure you are from data breaches. By taking the time to learn how to manage passwords and teaching your employees the same, you can avoid unauthorized access to valuable company data.
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