A lot of people ask me about passwords: Why are they important? Who would really try to use my password? Can’t we share a password? Why do I have to change my password?
In short, you have to keep changing your password because if it is compromised this will stop the attacker from using it. If someone has your password and three months later you change it, then they can no longer access your account.
And no, you can’t share passwords. If someone else is using your account, even if you want them to, then your system administrator can’t tell what you did and what the other person did — so anything that goes wrong is your fault.
It’s also a bad idea to use the same password for everything. Then if someone guesses your password they’ll have access to all of your accounts.
There are some guidelines for a strong password:
- It should be six characters or longer. (A longer password will take more time to hack.)
- It should not be obvious. (It took not time for me to guess my friend’s password. Her dog’s name is Toto. I jokingly said, “I can’t log in, I need you to type your Toto123” and she freaked out because somehow I knew her password.)
- It should contain a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols. (This makes it harder to hack.)
- It should not use words found in the dictionary. (A brute-force password attack is software that literally runs through the dictionary and tries each word as your password.)
Think about it — you wouldn’t have a key to your house or car that had one notch in it. That would be way to simple to pick.
There is the problem though of passwords being too complicated to remember, or having too many passwords. There are password management programs that can help with this, or you could use a biometric identification like a fingerprint scan to unlock your passwords. A recent survey by Siber Systems found that having too many passwords negatively impacts both security and productivity and that 48% percent of businesses surveyed are actively seeking password management solutions. Siber Systems makes the widely acclaimed RoboForm Enterprise software which allows businesses to securely store usernames and passwords while applying policy to make sure that they are strong passwords. For more information about RoboForm Enterprise, visit www.roboform.com/enterprise.
Biometric password management holds some promise. Fingerprint readers are becoming commonplace. But until those technologies come our way, the safest practice is setting smarter passwords.