Franchise businesses are increasingly experiencing disruptions, not only from the pandemic, but from hackers as well. Cybercrime is at an all-time high in many industries, and with fewer security controls, small to medium-sized businesses are facing more than their fair share.
Password security is your best recipe for cyber safety, protecting all your data, devices and systems from unauthorized access. The more seriously your business takes password security, the less vulnerable you’ll be to hackers.
Good password security helps protect against network intrusions, data breaches, viruses, malware and ransomware. It can also help reduce your risk for the lawsuits, regulatory fines and bad publicity that often accompany a hack.
Here’s what to know about the latest recommended password security best practices, including minimizing your risk from hackers, choosing good passwords and enjoying better cyber safety for your business.
Why Password Security is Important
If your business relies on computers, it also relies on the safety of your passwords. Passwords are used for protecting many different types of sensitive and confidential data and computer systems, including:
- Back-of-office terminals
- Point-of-sale systems
- Email communications
- Social media accounts
- Digital billboards
- Ticketing systems
- IT infrastructure
- Mobile devices
- Customer payment info
- Vendor systems
- Billing information
- Financial records
When passwords are compromised, you can face:
- Network intrusions and data breaches – Where hackers can read and steal private data from you and your customers. These hacks can lead to lawsuits from customers and fines from regulators.
- Viruses, malware and ransomware – Where hackers install unauthorized software that can corrupt computer systems and lock up data. These hacks can lead to business interruptions.
In today’s world, protecting your data, devices and systems is just good business, and helps ensure you maintain the trust of your customers and avoid unnecessary costs, downtime and liability risk.
How Hackers Can Crack Weak Passwords
Adding basic password security for all your systems and devices is a good first step to securing your data. But it’s important to realize that even with all your systems protected by passwords, it’s still possible for someone to gain unauthorized access, because things are always changing.
While computer systems have become more advanced, hackers have upped their game as well. You may have noticed that popular websites and services are prompting you to update your password more frequently, and requiring you to pick stronger and better passwords when you do. This is because hackers may be able to guess your weak passwords and can use technology to hack even moderately secure passwords.
With new technology, some hackers are able to crack simple passwords of up to 10 characters instantly. Even properly chosen passwords that include numbers, symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters can be cracked in just a few minutes to hours if they are shorter than eight characters long.
Many computer users still choose passwords that are easy to guess and there are now billions of compromised and stolen passwords listed online. Using similar passwords for different websites can also allow a hacker who has gained access to one of your accounts to access other accounts. Plus, a hacker who finds one of your passwords may be able to guess your other ones.
How to Pick a Good Password
Choosing good passwords for all your logins can protect you from getting hacked and minimize the chance of confidential information falling into the wrong hands. Here are the best practices for you and your employees to follow:
- Choose a strong password. Strong passwords combine uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers and are at least 8 characters long. Always avoid using nicknames, birthdays or ordinary words in the dictionary.
- Keep your passwords confidential. Avoid sharing passwords with anyone else. If multiple employees need to use the same terminal or system, make sure everyone has their own individual login and password credentials.
- Avoid reusing old passwords. Use a new password every time you’re prompted, since compromised passwords will always vulnerable. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg found this out when he was hacked due to reusing an old password.
- Pick a unique password for everything. Differentiating your passwords for each account ensures a hacker can’t access all your accounts with one login. This keeps small hacks from turning into major ones.
- Keep track of all your passwords. The average person now has to juggle about 100 passwords. Keep track by writing them down on a piece of paper stored in a secure location or consider using a password manager.
- Use a password manager. With a browser or cloud-based password manager, there is a master password that secures all your logins. To log into your accounts, you only need to remember the master password.
- Check for compromised passwords. It’s possible to research whether one of your passwords has been compromised and should be updated. Check Google Password Checkup or Mozilla Firefox Monitor to see if your login has been compromised.
- Set up password reset options. To avoid losing access to your accounts, make sure to set up password reset options with memorable security question answers and a backup email or phone number on file.
- Turn on multi-factor authentication. By requiring a verification code sent to your phone or email, multi-factor authentication can keep a hacker from being able to log into your account even if they do get ahold of your password.
How to Better Protect Yourself
Good password security is a key ingredient to cyber security, helping minimize your risk from hackers and protect your data, devices and systems from unauthorized access. But even a great password can’t prevent all cyber-attacks. It’s also important to have adequate cyber liability insurance.
See what our coverage will look like for your business with our quick and easy 5-minute price indication.