- Posted by Stewart Fiori
- On July 12, 2019
In the rapidly advancing digital age that we live in, security is becoming more and more of an issue on the forefront of everyone’s minds. A lot of the time, employers and employees tend to associate the security of information at work as the responsibility of the IT team. While this is partially true, and there are basic firewalls and encryption to keep information safe, this software is useless if your employees are not also taking steps to guard their information.
The easiest yet most important way for companies to stay secure is to have secure passwords.
- Never include personal information in passwords such as name, address, birthday, pets’ names, etc. No matter how personal and unknown you think the information is, it is much harder to crack a password that has no connection to the user.
- Along the same lines, never use the same password for more than one account. If you use the same passwords and one gets cracked, the hacker now has access to the majority of your information across many different fields. You shouldn’t even use the same password patterns, because that makes breaching your security over different accounts easier as well. You don’t want someone who gained access to your Facebook account to also have access to your bank account.
- Having different passwords for everything, with no shared pattern between them can make your passwords hard to remember. However, you should never write down your passwords! The easiest way to keep your passwords together is to use a password manager. It is a virtual vault that requires a password to get in, and then you can store all of your usernames and passwords inside of it. The best part about a password manager is that it recognizes when you are logging into an account you have listed, and it will autofill your password so you don’t even have to remember it! Although having all of you passwords together may seem unsafe, in reality it is safe as long as you are regularly scanning for malware on your devices and only downloading items from trusted sites (e.g.Microsoft, Apple, Google).
- If a web site or online service offers 2FA (Two Factor Authentication) or MFA (Multi Factor Authentication), consider using it as an extra layer of protection.
- Finally, passwords should be creative. If you decide to use things that are related to you, they shouldn’t be so obvious. You can spell words wrong on purpose, leave out letters, or use a phrase and only use the starting letters. For example, if the phrase “We don’t see eye to eye on most things” means something to you, your password could be “Wdci2iomt”. Passwords that contain at least 8 characters, a mix of capital and lowercase letters, symbols (but not a similar symbol for a letter, like $ for S), and numbers are always more secure because there are more elements for a hacker to have to crack.
Another way to keep information secure is to be careful what you share online and on social media. Just like you shouldn’t post when you are going away because this is essentially inviting thieves to your house, you shouldn’t post info that can be used to hack you.
For example, on Twitter right now there are these fill-in-the-blank games. They are set up as Your [Blank] name is [two different pieces of information about you]. For example your author name is the name of your first pet and the street you grew up on, or your newscaster name is your middle name and your mom’s maiden name. Both of these examples include common security questions that you would use to recover passwords. Many people are participating in these games on Twitter (and other social media platforms) and not even stopping to consider what personal information that they are posting for all to see.
Overall, both employers and employees need to take a step back and consider how proactive and careful a company is overall at keeping information protected. It is crucial for employers to be proactive in our security measures, because reacting only once a breach has occurred does nothing to protect information, and is a much larger and more expensive deal for the company in the long run.
This article was written by Heather Bowers, a graduate of West Chester University, who is interning with Kistler Tiffany Benefits.