From email to social media to all types of apps for business, we need a collection of passwords to protect our sensitive data. And with the number of data breaches on the rise, it's more important than ever to protect important information with the strongest passwords possible.
That means if you've used the same predictable formula to come up with all your passwords, such as a pet's name or your birthday, you're putting yourself -- and your business -- at risk. Good news is that there are several things you can do to make sure your sensitive data stays out of the hands of hackers.
Here, Ed Barrett, vice president of marketing and channel sales for Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based software security company SecurityCoverage, offers three tips for beefing up password security at your company:
1. Make it complicated.
The trick is to come up with something that's not easy to guess based on other information, such as your name, date of birth or phone number. Barrett suggests creating passwords that:
- Use upper and lower case letters
- Contain letters as well as numbers
- Are at least 14 characters long
"Hackers are in the business of compromising your data and have strong tools and a lot of experience cracking password files," Barrett says. "The only way to make their jobs harder is to create longer, more complex passwords."
2. Mix it up.
Since passwords are needed to access all types of applications and devices, you might be tempted to simplify things by using the same password for all of them. Don't do it, Barrett warns.
"You probably don't care if, say, your dormant Hotmail account is compromised, but maybe you used the same password for your credit card or Amazon.com, and now that information is in the bad guys hands," he says. Use different passwords across platforms to decrease the likelihood that hackers will get more of your information.
3. Stay organized.
Remembering complicated passwords for every application you use personally and for business can be a lot to commit to memory. One trick is to pick long words you like and won't forget, remove the vowels and replace them with numbers you'll remember. Or you could develop a system for creating multiple passwords using the same formula for each.