Having strong and unique passwords is crucial for protecting personal, business, and sensitive information online. Strong passwords are those that are difficult to guess or crack, while unique passwords ensure that a single compromised password cannot be used to access multiple accounts. Without strong and unique passwords, individuals and organizations are at a higher risk of cyber attacks, such as hacking, phishing, and identity theft.
By using strong and unique passwords, individuals and organizations can better safeguard their personal and sensitive information and minimize the risk of cybercrime.
USING COMMON / EASILY GUESSED PASSWORDS
Let’s face it. People can be lazy and repetitive and this is more apparent in creating passwords than just about anything else. Hackers and con-artists are counting on this laziness in order to grow their own ill-gotten wealth.
Some examples of common and lazy password choices that are insecure and could be cracked in less than a second with the proper software include:
"123456" - "password" - "abc123"
These are among the most commonly used passwords and are easily guessable. These have been common default passwords set up by software or IT staff that are setting up new accounts for employees. Passwords should be secure from the first moment the account is created.
"qwerty" - "letmein" - "hello1"
These are common keyboard patterns and are also easily guessable. This is where laziness comes in as people want something fast and efficient to type on their keyboard. This is easily exploited by hackers and password cracking software.
"admin" - "root" - "5555555"
These are default usernames often used as a password and are easily guessable. Your username and password should never be the same.
"iloveyou" - "princess" - "Cowboys1"
These are common personal and emotional words that are easily guessable when up against a Dictionary Attack. Common words are always to be avoided, especially words that are personally connected to you such as a sport you play or team you support.
"john123" - "jane123" - "1975-01-15"
These are basic personal information like name and numbers that are easily guessable. Your name, your spouse, relatives, kids, are all easily guessed by the most basic password crackers.
All of these types of passwords are easy to guess because they are commonly used, easily discoverable through publicly available information, and/or easily cracked using automated tools.
Passwords that are easily guessable or easily cracked make it easier for criminals to gain access to personal and sensitive information. In contrast, strong passwords are typically longer and use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters, making them much harder to guess or crack.
DON’T USE THE SAME PASSWORD
Hackers use a variety of techniques to try to crack passwords, such as dictionary attacks, brute force attacks, and phishing scams. By using unique and strong passwords for every account, individuals and businesses can greatly reduce their risk of falling victim to these and other forms of cyber attacks.
Using the weak and duplicate passwords for your online accounts can lead to a greater vulnerability to cyber attacks in several ways:
One of the most common ways we try to save time is by using the same password over and over again for multiple accounts. When an individual uses the same password for multiple accounts, a hacker who gains access to one account can use that password to try to access other accounts as well. This means that once a hacker gets hold of one password, they can potentially access multiple accounts and sensitive information, making it easier for them to cause widespread damage.
Hackers use automated tools to test lists of stolen usernames and passwords on different websites, this is called credential stuffing. If an individual uses the same password for multiple accounts and one of those accounts gets compromised, the hacker can try that password on other sites where the individual has an account. Did you use the same credentials for your social media accounts as your bank? If so, you are at a greater risk!
If a hacker has access to an individual's email address and password, they can use that information to launch phishing attacks. Phishing is a type of cyber attack in which a hacker attempts to trick individuals into providing sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, through the use of fake websites or emails. These fake websites or emails are designed to look like legitimate sites or messages, but are actually controlled by the hacker. The hackers may already have legitimate personal information about you from previous data breaches. They’ll use this data to appear legitimate in order to get the missing information from you to access your accounts.
Website and server data breaches are a common way for hackers to obtain large numbers of usernames and passwords. If an individual uses the same password for multiple accounts and one of those accounts gets compromised in a data breach, the hacker can use that password to try to access other accounts.
DATA BREACHES LEAD TO IDENTITY THEFT! Your personal data is probably already out there due to the 1500+ high-profile data breaches that happen every year that have lead to billions of users' data being exposed. Data breaches often include your date of birth, social security number, address, answers to security questions, email address, phone numbers, account numbers, usernames and passwords (encrypted and unencrypted), and other personally identifiable information.
Criminals can then create convincing emails and phone calls that appear from organizations that you may have an account with. These emails or calls will try to gain your trust by using the breached data they already have on you in an attempt to get even more information. They will certainly use any new information they gain to hurt you and your business.
BENEFITS OF RANDOMLY GENERATED PASSWORDS
So, now that we’ve discussed the very possible effects of poor password management, let’s talk about the solution - randomly generated passwords.
Randomly generated passwords are more secure than manually created passwords because they are complex, unpredictable, unique and avoid the types of human error we’ve discussed here in this article. They are typically longer than human-generated passwords and use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
There are several benefits to using randomly generated passwords that are at least 12-15 characters in length and include numbers, letters, and symbols, such as:
Randomly generated passwords are much more difficult to crack than simple, easily guessable passwords. The longer the password and the more complex the characters used (e.g. numbers, letters, and symbols), the more secure the password is. Randomly generated passwords are less likely to be based on personal information or easily guessable patterns, making them harder for hackers to guess or crack.
Reduced risk of hacking
By using a unique and complex password for each account, individuals and organizations can greatly reduce their risk of falling victim to hacking and other cyber attacks. This means that even if one password is compromised, it cannot be used to access other accounts. This greatly reduces the risk of widespread damage in case of a successful hack.
Protection against dictionary attacks
A dictionary attack is a method hackers use to guess passwords by trying words from a dictionary. By using random characters in the password, it is less likely that the password will be in any dictionary, making it more difficult for a hacker to guess it.
Protection against brute force attacks
A brute force attack is a method hackers use to guess passwords by trying all possible combinations of characters. Using a longer password with more characters makes it more time-consuming for the hacker to try all possible combinations, making it less likely that the password will be cracked. Randomly generated passwords eliminate the human error of choosing a weak password such as easily guessable passwords or the same password for multiple accounts.
Avoiding data loss or ransomware attacks
Internal policies for businesses and organizations should require the use of strong and unique passwords and using a random password generator that meets the minimum requirements for password security.
Having strong password policies and password management tools in place can help businesses and organizations protect themselves from a ransomware attack by making it more difficult for hackers to gain unauthorized access to their systems through employee mistakes. This includes the use of complex and unique passwords, two-factor authentication, regular password updates, and employee training on the importance of password security and the dangers of ransomware.
THE IMPORTANCE OF USING A PASSWORD MANAGER
A password manager is a tool that securely stores and manages passwords, typically through the use of encryption. It allows individuals to create and store unique and complex passwords for each of their accounts, eliminating the need to remember multiple passwords.
It also automatically fills in login credentials for websites and apps, making it more convenient for users to access their accounts. Some password managers also have additional features such as password generation, two-factor authentication, and secure sharing of passwords with others.
The password manager stores the passwords in an encrypted format, protected by a master password, that the user creates, this master password is the only password the user needs to remember. The password manager can be either a software or a browser extension.
There are several benefits of using a password manager, including:
A password manager can generate and store complex, unique, and random passwords for each account, greatly reducing the risk of cyber attacks, such as hacking, phishing, and identity theft.
A password manager can automatically fill in login credentials for websites and apps, eliminating the need for individuals to remember multiple complex passwords. Think about trying to remember all of these 12-15 character, unique passwords for all the websites and apps you visit. That would be overwhelming!
Protection against keyloggers
Keyloggers are malicious software that records every keystroke made on a computer, including passwords. A password manager can protect against keyloggers by automatically filling in login credentials, eliminating the need for individuals to type in passwords.
Compliance with security regulations
Many security regulations require the use of strong and unique passwords, using a password manager can help organizations to comply with these regulations and avoid penalties and legal issues.
Backup and recovery
A password manager can help users to recover their lost passwords by providing a recovery option. Additionally, it can also provide a backup option for users to store their passwords in case of a computer crash or other similar events.
Many password managers offer two-factor authentication options. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security process that requires users to provide two forms of identification before gaining access to a website or app. With 2FA, even if an attacker is able to obtain a user's password, they will still need to provide the second form of identification in order to gain access.
USING KEEPER BUSINESS FOR PASSWORD MANAGEMENT
MicroFuze IT has partnered with Keeper, a leading provider of password management software to offer our small and medium-sized business clients the added security and convenience of Keeper's password management software.
Keeper's software is designed to help businesses keep their sensitive information secure by creating and managing unique and complex passwords for each account. With Keeper, you can easily store, access, and share your passwords, while also enjoying the added security of two-factor authentication.
In addition to providing access to Keeper's software, MicroFuze IT also offers setup, service, and support for the Keeper software. This means that we'll take care of the installation and configuration of the software, as well as provide ongoing support to ensure that it is working smoothly for your business.
The IT professionals MicroFuze IT can take the hassle out of setting up password management software for employees by providing a comprehensive service that includes:
Installation and Configuration
MicroFuze IT will handle the installation and configuration of the password management software, ensuring that it is set up correctly and integrated with the appropriate systems.
MicroFuze IT can provide training to employees on how to use the software and best practices for password management. This ensures that employees and staff understand the importance of strong and unique passwords and how to use the software to create and manage them.
MicroFuze IT can provide ongoing technical support to employees, troubleshooting and resolving any issues that may arise with the software. The Keeper Team is also available to help you 24x7. Keeper’s BreachWatch add-on constantly scans employees’ Keeper Vaults for passwords that have been exposed and alerts you to take action.
MicroFuze IT can also help businesses scale their password management software, as their business grows, to accommodate more employees and more accounts. With fast and easy setup, we can help roll out this software to your employees on every device they use. Each employee gets Keeper on unlimited devices for complete, company-wide protection.
Compliance and Audit
MicroFuze IT can help businesses and organizations comply with any security regulations and industry standards, and provide support for any audits that may be required. Keeper utilizes proprietary zero-trust and zero-knowledge security architecture with full end-to-end encryption.
By taking care of the installation, configuration, training, and ongoing support, MicroFuze IT can help businesses and organizations ensure that their employees and staff are using password management software effectively, without having to worry about the technical details. This allows business owners to focus on their business operations, while also ensuring that their sensitive information is protected.
We understand the importance of keeping your business's sensitive information secure, and we're excited to be able to offer our clients a powerful tool to do just that. If you're interested in learning more about how Keeper can help your business or organization, or if you're ready to get started, please contact MicroFuze IT to schedule a consultation with one of the IT professionals based in our Waxahachie, Texas data center.
We encourage you to get a personalized demonstration of the Keeper platform from one of our cybersecurity experts. Discover how Keeper addresses your key cybersecurity needs and prevents data breaches related to password vulnerabilities. Let's work together to protect your business or organization data and sensitive information to keep your operations running smoothly.