Owning a small business means owning data. You’re constantly acquiring new information related to your customers, your financial details, and all the vendors and contractors with whom you work. One cyber criminal, though, one lucky hack, and you’ve just exposed your business to a major blow. From lost trust among your clients to costly lawsuits for the damage done, protecting your company from data theft is among your most important responsibilities.
A lot of it comes down to one simple choice you make: passwords.
“Overall, passwords still present the biggest challenge for businesses of all sizes,” said Ron Schlecht, founder and managing partner of BTB Security. Businesses hire Schlecht’s company to test their digital security for weak spots and, he said, “you can’t imagine how many times we still break in to companies because of a bad password.”
If you want to avoid weak passwords at your business, start by steering clear of the following list. Read on for seven passwords you should never (ever) use.
Arguably, this is the number-one and most common bad choice. Also prevalent are variations such as P@ssword and P@55w0rd!. These might be easy to remember, but they’re also among the first options hackers will try.
Easy-to-guess passwords often take root because they’re simple to remember. That’s the story with this hacker-friendly option constructed from the sequence of letters at the top left of the typical computer keyboard.
Or, 98765. Or, 4567. You get the picture — no consecutive numbers (and the same goes for sequential letter combinations). You can only count on passwords such as these to expose your business to digital theft.
If your shop is called Serafina’s Weddings, don’t set your password as SerafinasWeddings1. That would be a early choice for hackers looking to break into your valuable data.
Skip it entirely, when it comes to passwords. Also avoid trying to mash together similar details, such as your street name and street number — i.e. Main215.
Date of Birth
Thanks to the Internet, it doesn’t take much effort to find a person’s DOB. Birthdays, birthdates, years of birth — all of them make for readily attainable passwords and are poor choices for your company.
Simple Dictionary Words
Especially if they’re related to your business, don’t use them. No baseball, football, or soccer for your sporting goods store. No muffler, tire, or spark plug for your auto garage.
And so, what should you do when it comes to picking a password?
A key approach starts with thinking of a passphrase. Next, substitute letters, characters, and abbreviations for parts of it. For example, my first car was a Honda in 1990 would be easy enough to remember, if that was the case in your life. Now, change it to my1stc@r=honda90.
Steer clear of the not so magnificent seven above, and protect your data with hard-to-guess constructions. With a strong password strategy, you’re well on your way to foiling online attacks.
By James O’Brien
The Harford SmallBiz Ahead