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Addressing Basic Cloud Security: Password Do’s and Don’ts

Online banking against tablet pc on desk.jpeg

Have you ever been in the position where you are working on a deadline, trying to beat the clock and all of a sudden you are prompted to change your password?  Has it been 90 days already!  Of course, the prompts that have been coming up for the last few weeks have been dismissed – you tell yourself, “I’ll do it later.”  But now it’s do or die.  So, you sit… what shall I change my password to this time?  I can’t use something I’ve already used – what have I used?  So you pull out your list of sticky notes with all your passwords.  Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!

As we get more ingrained into a digital world, and our personal and professional lives are stored within the cloud,cyber security becomes more important. And while Human Error is the number one cause of data breach, it is important to mitigate the risky situations that we put ourselves in. For this reason, it’s important to take a step back to basics and focus on making security everyone’s responsibility, starting with your password(s)!

Password Don’ts

We all know the no no’s of passwords: don’t use your birthday, your last name, children’s name, or pet’s name.  Don’t use general passwords, such as “123456” or “password”.  Avoid names, places, and dictionary words.  Do not use common phrases and do not use the same password over and over again on multiple sites.  Using these types of passwords helps hackers to easily access your accounts. 

1. Never use the same password for more than one account. 

It is important to use different passwords for each website you visit.  Since your e-mail is password protected, it is never a good idea to use your e-mail password.

2. Don’t leave your Passwords laying around

Remembering passwords is a challenge to say the least.  If you are storing your passwords on sticky notes or on a sheet of paper near your computer – STOP!  Writing passwords in a place with easy access provides easy access to getting hacked.  If you need to write down your passwords keep them in a secure place away from your computer.  Do not save passwords in your web browser or in text files on your computer.  Keeping a spreadsheet on your computer with all of your passwords isn’t safe and provides easy access for cybercriminals to steal, delete or corrupt.   Instead, find a trustworthy password manager to encrypt your password information.

Password Do’s

Mix it up!  The longer the password length, the harder it is to crack, so you are encouraged to use a mixture of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and punctuation. 

 1. Use a Password Manager. PC Magazine recently published an article on “The Best Password Managers of 2017”. Check out the best password tools available and see what works for you.

 2. Make it Unique to You

Create passwords that are difficult for others to come up with, but easy for you to remember.  A way to do this is to use a phrase to create a password.  For example:

 

Phrase

Password

The Pink Panther is the coolest cat I ever saw!

TPPitcc1es!

Someday, I want to visit Paris!

Sd,1wtvsitP!

This little piggy went to market

Tlpwnt2mkt

When I was nine, I learned to swim in Lake Tahoe

wIw9,IltsiLT


Try using a Paraphrase or as they say “Passphrase” that might expresses your feelings at the moment.  It is easy to remember how you are feeling.

Passphrase

Password

Craving Sushi for dinner tonight!

Cravinsushi4tonite!

Ready for some fun in the sun!

SoRedy4Sn&Fn!

Tired of the snow and cold weather

Ih8thsnow&cold

Ready for Vacation

Can’tw84vaca!


It’s kind of fun – like reading those personalized license plates going down the road.

 

  1. Add numbers in lieu of letters

Considering using an unexpected character that only you would know.  Notice the passwords above using a “1” instead of an “I”.  Using a “8” instead of “ate”.  That will help you get that number in there.

Though all of these tips and tricks may seem obvious, password error is a huge cause of data breaches today. These best practices can be tedious and, often, difficult to follow. However, if you and your employees stick to the rule, you will have one less vulnerability for cybercriminals to exploit.

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About the author
Cindy Lucas

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