We’ll say it one more time for the people in the back: PROTECT YOUR PASSWORDS! Data breaches don’t happen in a vacuum and often, simple efforts to thwart attacks can be implemented to offer the best protection for your business. Enter: Secure and regularly changed logins as the first line of defense.
Unfortunately, people find it difficult to remember sophisticated keystroke combinations that would help make their passwords stronger and to frequently update them. Many of us have heard the advice that you should come up with a strong and unique password for all of your accounts; but people still use simple passwords such as ‘12345’ for their bank logins, eCommerce, and email accounts.
Such an approach poses myriad digital security problems, including the accessibility of your details via brute force attack, such as credential stuffing. In this type of attack, cybercriminals systematically attempt to access other accounts using login details stolen in previous data breaches.
In the United States, about 3.6 million of these attacks happen every hour. Although the credential-stuffing attack’s success rate is low, such a volume shows that a significant number of personal details are compromised. But password management tools can offer protection of your personal logins.
What are password managers?
If you depend on your memory to remember those many long, unique, and complex logins, you may find yourself switching to a few short but simple ones. As a result, you end up compromising security as you try to maintain a password you can recall faster. You might even write down your password in a notebook or on a sheet of paper hidden in your desk, but this also creates an avenue by which your password can be discovered and used. But with password management software, users don’t have to remember the logins.
Password managers can develop complex passwords for new accounts and remember them on your behalf. They can also issue an alert when you reuse credentials or if there is a data compromise on a site where your credentials are used. Additionally, these storage systems can sync across different devices, including smartphones, Macs, and PCs. You only have to recall the master password or permit biometrics like facial recognition to open the application.
For many of us, browser-based password managers that save login details are the most convenient choice, but these can have their own vulnerabilities and may not be capable of protecting a centralized requisite of passwords. Additionally, it’s possible that a hacker can take control of your computer remotely via malware, which means they would have access to all of the passwords saved in your browser. This can make all of your accounts vulnerable. Using a password manager is safer than when your browser holds all your passwords.
Some password managers have solid security measures and integrate an additional layer of protection into your data. For example, a fingerprint scanner can protect your data from being stolen when you lose your device. Dark Web Scanning can also detect malicious use of your data.
Why password managers are the preferred method of login credential storage
Creation of long, complicated passwords. Password managers can create a new password for your account, store it, and replace it frequently. Most of them create long, strong, and sophisticated logins at random to deceive cybercriminals. Password managers also address a few major problems with passwords: First, most people are unable to create complicated and difficult-to-guess logins. Second, NIST password guidelines suggest we move away from enforcing upper/lower, alpha/numeric, and special character combinations and simply use a phrase that is easy to remember but impossible for someone to guess. Finally, it is a challenge among many people to remember to regularly change their passwords. The frequent changes thwart hackers’ efforts to use the old passwords they might be having in their custody.
Management of shared accounts. There are accounts where more than one team member accesses their daily operation, and control of the access can be difficult in a business. A password manager allows efficient management and frequently changes the password. Some applications enable a single person to have control over the password to an account and can allow others to access without sharing the real password with them.
Avoid repeated use of the same password. It’s likely that two or more of your accounts use the same or a similar password. You are not alone since most people find it the easiest way to recall the passwords. According to a survey by Ponemon Institute, over 50% of respondents use the same password to login to an average of five accounts, which can include both personal and corporate logins. Unfortunately, this practice can be catastrophic in a business setting since a compromise in a single password (even if it’s for a personal account) means intruders may be able to access more than one service and steal information from each. A password management programs limit the damage that would face a business in case of a compromise by facilitating the easy application of different passwords. These solutions also track password usage and notify the management and the staff when there is nefarious use of the password.
Time savings. Many people might not realize it, but password managers significantly increase productivity at work. These storage systems automatically identify the site you use, retrieve the correct logins, and move on and log in to the website. Although password managers store and retrieve your login details, they have solid security protocols (including multi-factor authentication) and save the time you would use to feed your password into a site and reset it when you forget.
Protection against phishing attacks. Phishing attacks are among the most effective ways for hackers to steal login credentials. You receive phishing emails that appear to be authentic, but they direct you to hoax login fields to capture your passwords. Although most people are vulnerable to these attacks, some password managers are not. If the domain name does not match, it won’t provide the password.
Choosing a good password manager
Password managers come in different shapes and sizes. These storage systems can come built into your browser, locally stored, or even cloud-based. Your unique requirements and threat models determine the best for your case.
There are two major security features to consider when choosing a password manager to protect your logins: First, check for a random password generator. Frequent password changes are a great security measure. Second, ensure that you’re able to enable multifactor authentication (MFA).
MFA involves a requirement for users to provide another form of identity as a supplement to the password. It could be a PIN code sent to a phone number or answering a challenge question. The two-factor authentication is an additional layer of protection and is crucial in protecting all credentials stored in your password manager.
Password management software comes in handy not only for individuals but also for businesses. A single breach in a corporate system can have a devastating consequence on an entire organization and its workers. Meaning, the significance of password management in businesses today is more crucial than it has ever been.
ZAG can help assess whether your business is susceptible to external threats – such as password breaches – through an IT security assessment. Want to learn more? Click here.