Two Password Management Tips for Better Computer Network Security
There are many reasons why computer network security breaches take place—from poorly configured firewalls to lack of a security policy—but there’s one area surrounding network security that especially drives IT professionals crazy, and it’s one that could easily be solved with the right support from company employees: passwords.
Think back on the Yahoo breach last year, when Yahoo Voices exposed the passwords of hundreds of thousands of users. Security folks started poking around, including blogger Anders Nilsson, and what he found was both alarming and comical.
The top 10 passwords breached were:
IT understands that ‘90$+fh@4KL’ is hard to remember, yet there’s no reason why passwords have to be the number one security issue at organizations. Here are two things you can do to help IT with managing your passwords and help improve computer network security.
1. Use a password management system. You have several free options, such as LastPass or even Google Chrome, that will auto-fill computer generated passwords for you. Just remember your main password and the system will take care of the rest. This type of solution not only makes your life easier – the automatic login feature is nice – it generates passwords that are truly random, taking the guessing out of the hacker’s arsenal.
If you’d rather not use a password management system, then start getting creative. The first letters of your favorite song, combined with the year in which it came out as opposed to your dog or cat’s name. You get the idea.
2. Change your passwords often. If you’re using your own system, be sure to change your passwords every six months or so, which we consider the optimal interval for password changes. (Others sometimes recommend changing your passwords every three months, but we've found that people are significantly more likely to write down passwords that change every 12 weeks.) You don’t need to change passwords as often if you use a management system, but it’s still a good idea to change your main password once or twice a year.
And here’s a bonus point for avoiding computer network security breaches. NEVER keep a written list of your passwords under your keyboard or in your top desk drawer. You wouldn’t keep your debit card pin number in your wallet, so don’t keep any passwords where they’re easy to find.
With social media providing (more and more public) insight into peoples’ lives and interests, passwords are becoming far too easy to acquire. Take computer network security seriously and save IT some headaches.