Implementing good password practices in your business reduces the chance that hackers or malicious software could access your accounts. While many individuals and companies may be concerned about potential leaks or security breaches, small businesses and enterprises could do more to ensure their information is safe.
Some current password, hacking and safety procedure statistics give insight into the current state of password practices. Over 80% of company security breaches were linked to weak passwords. With only 12% of individuals creating unique login information like passwords whenever they make a new account, knowing password best practices is key, especially at organizations that handle sensitive and business-critical data.
Password Management Best Practices
Every company or individual should want to protect their private information. When implementing the most secure password practices, your IT department can follow these tips and share them with your team members.
1. Avoid the Dictionary
Try to avoid using full words or words found in the dictionary. Many hackers use specific programs that search through words in the dictionary. Some even search across multiple languages to try and find your password. If you work in the cybersecurity or IT department, tell employees to opt for variations of letters and numbers instead of individual complete words. It’s also wise to avoid using personal information in passwords that hackers could find out, like birthdates.
2. Do Not Use the Same Password for Every Account
One of the best password security practices is to use different credentials for every account. While using the same password across different accounts may be easier, this could lead to a security breach. If a hacker finds out your password for one account, every other account could be compromised.
To combat this, use different passwords for every website and account. This way, you can avoid attacks like credential stuffing, where hackers use stolen credentials and copy and paste the information on other platforms to see if they can access other accounts.
3. Do Not Change Your Password Too Much
Many companies think that to keep your information safe, you should change your password periodically, and they have users change their passwords every 90 to 180 days. However, contrary to popular belief, this practice may lead to more security breaches.
Try to avoid changing your personal and business passwords frequently. Many users reuse passwords they’ve inserted before, making it easier for hackers to trace down potential account information. While your company may implement password reuse prevention strategies, it is still likely that employees will find ways around it or even write new passwords down in an attempt to remember them, leading to more security hazards.
Ask your employees to change their password only when there has been a threat or potential compromise to the security of the business.
4. Avoid Storing Passwords Digitally or Physically
Some of your employees may be tempted to store or share passwords online or on paper — about 57% of workers admit to keeping passwords written on sticky notes, while 62% share passwords via texts and emails. These practices often leave the company at risk. Try to avoid storing passwords this way, as they could be stolen by a hacker or someone in the building.
5. Update Passwords After an Employee Leaves
In some instances, former employees could share passwords or use their former passwords to create a safety risk in the company. Ensure you change passwords after an employee leaves their job. This way, the former employee cannot hack into their former account or try to access accounts they should not use anymore. For small businesses with less data protection, it is essential to implement this password practice.
6. Utilize Password Encryption
Companies that use encrypted passwords experience more protection when hackers try to access their system. Even if the passwords are stolen, businesses can utilize end-to-end encryption, a non-reversible option that protects passwords even as they travel through the network.
7. Test Your Passwords
Test your passwords periodically to ensure they are strong. Many online testing tools allow you to test and generate new passwords that are unlikely to be hacked. Use caution when using online testing tools, and only use ones from trustworthy sites. If you aren’t sure what testers are reliable, use a website’s password strength indicator when creating an account.
8. Use Two-Factor or Multi-Factor Authentication
Two-factor or multi-factor authentication can protect your employees from potential hackers. Along with traditional usernames and passwords, users must confirm their identity with a code sent to their mobile device or email. In many cases, trying to guess or crack the password may not be enough for a hacker, as they won’t be able to confirm your identity.
Some multi-factor authentication methods allow for biometric verification. For example, the iPhone uses FaceID or thumbprint verification, and Windows 11 uses face verification through Windows Hello. Your business could apply system identification through faces, eyes, thumbprints, typing dynamics or voice verification if you choose.
With Optimal IdM two-factor authentication, the OptimalCloud features allow for customizable security for your business. Use one-time passwords that change every 30 to 60 seconds and help your information resist security breaches and attacks. The OptimalCloud also offers typing dynamics. Typing dynamics is a behavioral biometric method that takes into account how a person is using a device — the speed of their typing, how they hold a device, and more — not just whether their password was entered correctly. Benefits of typing dynamics include a better user experience, faster authentication, and improved security that keeps hackers at bay.
9. Create Strong Passwords
Long and strong passwords make it difficult for hackers to crack the system. Typical strong passwords are eight characters or longer, with variations of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and unique symbols. According to the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, strong passwords include long passphrases and variations that make it difficult for hackers to guess.
10. Use SSO within a Secure Identity Access Management (IAM) Platform
Single Sign-On (SSO) is a form of access control that links multiple independent software systems together allowing users to log in once and gain access to all systems and applications without being prompted to login again. Integration with software systems and third-party applications allows for seamless and secure one-login access. Using the Optimal IdM OptimalCloud IAM platform, SSO can be implemented via a cloud, on-premise, or hybrid solution. The OptimalCloud also comes with customizable authentication and authorization rules, identity analytics and custom attribute to scale with each company’s needs.
Protect Your Business With Help From Optimal IdM
Since 2005, Optimal IdM has provided affordable access management solutions for Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies worldwide. Our IAM solution, the OptimalCloud, is fully customizable and made to secure your business’s information. Schedule a 1:1 with a representative to find out more about Optimal IdM.