How to create and remember strong passwords

How to create and remember strong passwords

Introduction

The importance of robust, unique passwords cannot be overstated. Password-protected services are a part of our daily lives, whether our online banking accounts, social media profiles, or business data. However, maintaining strong passwords and remembering them can be a task. This blog post will provide practical tips and tricks on creating and remembering strong passwords, ensuring the security of your small business without causing you any headaches.

The Importance of Strong Passwords

The first step towards creating strong passwords is understanding the importance. Passwords are the first defence in securing your digital accounts, and weak passwords can make your business vulnerable to cyberattacks. Brute force attacks, where attackers try numerous combinations to guess your password, are common, and simple, predictable passwords can be cracked in no time. A strong password can safeguard your business’s sensitive data and maintain your online reputation, making it necessary in today’s digital landscape.

It is a good idea to write down your password requirements so that staff (and contractors) know what to expect from their passwords. You need to add it to your Information Security Policy or create a password policy. It is an essential requirement if you are looking to get Cyber Essential accreditation.

Creating Robust and Unique Passwords

Creating a robust and unique password isn’t as tricky as it sounds. Avoid using personal information such as birthdays, names, or common phrases. Instead, opt for a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. The longer the password, the better. Ideally, your password should be at least 12 characters long. Consider using a passphrase – a sentence or a phrase with words that mean something to you, making it easier to remember. For example, ‘MyDogsNameIsBuddy’ is a better password than ‘Buddy123’. But when you change characters for special symbols and numbers in ‘MyDogsNameIsBuddy’, you can go to ‘MyD0g$N&me1sBuddy.’

I used ‘MyDogsNameIsBuddy’ as an example ONLY. I will say it again: it is not wise to use names or key dates of family or pets, as this information could be easy to find. I may think of a phrase to describe my pet or a lyric from a relative’s favourite song. Remember to ensure you don’t leave any breadcrumbs to what your random phase could be. Think about all those social media posts where you tell people your favourite animal, song, food, etc., could all be used to help identify your possible password.

Remembering Your Passwords

Remembering numerous complex passwords can be challenging. However, there are safe ways to manage this. One method is to use a password manager – a secure digital vault that can generate and store all your passwords. These tools can auto-fill your passwords whenever needed; you only need to remember a single master password. If you’re uncomfortable using a password manager, consider using a pattern or algorithm you know. For example, you could use different languages to say the exact phrase or replace certain letters with numbers or symbols.

Conclusion

In conclusion, creating and remembering strong passwords doesn’t have to be daunting. You can effectively secure your business’s digital accounts by understanding the importance of robust passwords, using a mix of characters to create unique passwords, and employing strategies to remember them. Remember, your password is your first defence against cyber threats, so make it count!

Exploring Different Password Management Tools

Exploring Different Password Management Tools

Introduction

Data security is becoming increasingly important, and managing passwords effectively is critical for small businesses. With the abundance of applications and platforms we use daily, it’s challenging to remember all those unique passwords and risky to keep them unprotected. Here, we will explore different password management tools that can provide a practical solution to these problems, discussing their features, pros, and cons.

The standard functions of a password manager are to store and generate complex passwords when requested. Most will check the security level of the password and prompt you to change it if it has been reused or is not strong enough. And when you have over 100 passwords, it can be seen as more of a need than a want. The NCSC has guidance on things to look for in a password manager. Below, we look at a few of the password managers out there.

LastPass

LastPass is a well-known password manager offering a range of features to make password management easier. It provides auto-fill capabilities, password generation, and the ability to store digital records such as insurance cards. LastPass also has a feature that audits your passwords and gives security scores. While it’s user-friendly and offers a free version, the premium version might be expensive for some small businesses. Nonetheless, the security it provides, coupled with its user-friendly interface, makes it a good option for many. Ok, they had a couple of well-publicised security breaches. There is an argument that these incidents/breaches have strengthened their security, while others are nervous that they had two serious breaches.

Dashlane

Dashlane is another popular password management tool known for its user-friendly interface and robust security features. In addition to storing and auto-filling passwords, Dashlane provides a VPN for safe browsing and dark web monitoring services. One unique feature of Dashlane is the ability to change multiple passwords instantly. However, these features come at a cost, as Dashlane is one of the pricier options on the market. This might deter some small businesses, but it may be a worthwhile investment for those who highly value security.

1Password

1Password offers a compelling balance of affordability and functionality. This tool allows you to manage passwords, credit card information, and secure notes. It also provides a ‘Travel Mode’ that removes sensitive data from your devices while travelling. While it doesn’t have a free plan like LastPass, its pricing is more affordable compared to others, making it an attractive option for small businesses. However, it lacks features like automatic password change and personal data monitoring.

Keeper Security

Keeper Security is another excellent password management tool that provides robust security features. It can generate, store, and autofill strong passwords across all your devices. It also offers secure file storage and a private vault for sensitive documents. Keeper also includes a feature for dark web monitoring, ensuring your information isn’t misused online. While it’s not as feature-rich as other options, its focus on security and affordable pricing make it a strong contender for small businesses.

Conclusion

Password management tools like LastPass, Dashlane, 1Password, and Keeper Security can significantly simplify maintaining strong, unique passwords for every online account. They offer a variety of features designed to enhance security and efficiency. While deciding on the right tool, small businesses should consider their budget, features, and the level of protection required. Remember, the best tool will be the one that fits your business’s budget.

Understanding the Basics of Password Management

Understanding the Basics of Password Management

Introduction

This is the first in the series on password management- the critical and often overlooked aspect of digital security. There is a reason I chose May to do passwords. May 2nd is World Password Day.

As a small business owner, it’s vital to grasp the significance of managing passwords effectively.

Let’s be honest: cyber threats are not only real but increasingly prevalent; effective password management can prove to be a crucial safeguard in protecting your business from potential security breaches.

The Indispensable Role of Robust Passwords

Passwords, often underestimated, are your first line of defence against the looming threats of cyberattacks.
After reading that we have an average of over 100 passwords, is it any wonder we can find it challenging to manage them all?

A robust, intricate password can challenge hackers attempting to gain unauthorised access to your sensitive systems and data. In contrast, weak passwords, easily guessable or simplistic, are the perfect soft targets for cybercriminals. Crafting a strong password isn’t just about complexity—it’s about creating a password that holds personal significance to you and is simultaneously difficult for others to predict.

Hive Systems created a password table to show how easily your password can be. (go check it out – they have loads of great resources for FREE)

This puts into perspective the NSCS guidance on password creation if you do not have or use a password manager.

  • Where possible, use a passphrase. more than 12 characters, with a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special symbols
  • Three random words, again more than 12 characters, with a mix of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols.
  • To identify accounts, come up with your system, e.g. Facebook could be FB at the end, or F at the beginning and K at the end.

A Detailed Examination of Password Management

Having established the critical role of robust passwords, it’s time to delve into the nitty-gritty of password management. This process encompasses creating, storing, and managing all your passwords. In the context of small businesses, it’s common to use a variety of applications, each necessitating a unique password. Memorising all these passwords can be an uphill task. That’s where the utility of password management tools comes into play. These tools aid in the creation of strong passwords, offer secure storage options, and even have the capability to auto-fill them for you when needed.

And don’t write them down!! I know you do it.

Fundamental Password Best Practices

As we near the end of the first blog in the series, it’s worth examining some fundamental password best practices to ensure optimal security.

Firstly, make it a rule to never reuse passwords across different sites or applications. This practice reduces the risk of multiple accounts being compromised.

Secondly, make it a habit to change your passwords as soon as you think they have been compromised. This limits the time during which a stolen password can be used. It used to be that we were advised. to change our passwords regularly, but this led to Password1 becoming Password2 and so on.

Thirdly, avoid incorporating easily guessable information such as birthdays, anniversaries, or pet names into your passwords.

Lastly, consider employing a password management tool to help manage all your passwords effectively and maintain their security.

In Conclusion: The Protection of Your Business Begins with Password Management

Understanding and implementing password management, along with robust password practices, are pivotal steps in fortifying your small business against the ever-present cyber threats. Remember, your password is your first line of defence. Ensure it is strong, keep it secure, and manage it wisely. We hope this comprehensive blog post has provided you with a valuable starting point for understanding the profound importance of password management in our digital era.

Ready to take the next step in securing your business? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Book a clarity call with our team of experts today, and let us help you navigate the complexities of password management and ensure the safety of your business in the digital realm.

Mastering Data Protection: A Guide for Small Businesses

Mastering Data Protection: A Guide for Small Businesses

In the digital age, data protection is necessary and an ongoing commitment for every business, big or small. Small businesses can fortify their data security by learning from past data breaches, understanding emerging trends, and preparing for the future.

Lessons from Past Data Breaches

To continue with backups this month, two notable data breaches in the UK and EU highlight the importance of robust data backup systems.

In 2015, TalkTalk, a UK-based telecommunications company, suffered a severe data breach that exposed the details of over 150,000 customers, including their bank account numbers. An investigation revealed that the breach was due to a simple SQL injection, a type of attack that could have been prevented with proper security measures. Furthermore, the company did not have a proper backup system, which made the recovery process more challenging and prolonged the period of disruption.

Similarly, in 2018, a French video game company, Veepee, experienced a data breach that exposed its users’ personal data. The breach happened due to an unprotected server, and access to the data was not restored until two days later. If a proper backup system had been in place, the data could have been restored more quickly, reducing the impact on users and the company’s reputation.

These cases highlight why securing your data and having a reliable backup system is crucial. Backups allow businesses to restore lost data quickly and continue operations with minimal disruption in case of a breach or any other data loss.

As we move forward, several trends are shaping the future of data protection. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are increasingly used to detect unusual activity and potential threats. Small businesses can leverage AI-based security tools to augment their security measures.

Blockchain technology, known for its use in cryptocurrencies, has a broader application in enhancing data security. It provides a secure and transparent way to record transactions, making it nearly impossible for hackers to alter existing information.

We also anticipate changes in privacy regulations. If you are in the UK, the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill is currently (at the time of publishing) in the House of Lords. This will update the UK GDPR, the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Privacy Electronic Communications Regulations (2003).

Since the implementation of GDPR in Europe and the US’s California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), it has signalled a global shift towards stricter regulations. Small businesses must stay updated on these changes to remain compliant.

Preparing for the Future

So, how can small businesses navigate this evolving landscape? Continuous learning and staying informed about the latest threats and security measures are crucial. Consider training your staff regularly on data protection best practices.

Another key aspect is investing in technology. Secure payment systems, encrypted communications, and cloud storage can enhance data security.

Finally, consider partnering with data protection experts or consultants. They can provide guidance tailored to your needs and help foster a data protection culture within your organisation.

Data protection is a journey, not a destination. By learning from past breaches, staying abreast of future trends, and preparing your business for what lies ahead, you can ensure your business is ready for the future of data protection.

To further understand your data protection needs and how to prepare your business, schedule a clarity call with our team of data protection experts. This call will provide personalised guidance and help you develop a robust data protection strategy. Don’t delay; secure your business’s future today.

Navigating Challenges and Implementing Strong Data Backups

Navigating Challenges and Implementing Strong Data Backups

In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, businesses face an array of challenges, particularly when it comes to data security. As the sophistication of digital threats increases, so does the importance of implementing strong data backups and maintaining robust security measures. Building on last week’s article, Building a Secure Data Environment, we will delve into the challenges of navigating digital threats, crafting a resilient backup plan, and selecting the right backup solutions and tools.

The digital sphere is no stranger to threats. Over the years, we’ve seen an evolution in the types of cyber threats businesses face, including ransomware, phishing, and internal threats. Ransomware, in particular, has become increasingly prevalent, often leading to significant business disruption and financial loss. The rise in phishing attacks also poses a significant risk, with cyber criminals continuously refining their tactics to trick unsuspecting users into revealing sensitive information. Additionally, internal threats, often overlooked, can be just as damaging, especially when proper access controls are not in place.

Crafting a Resilient Backup Plan

To protect against these threats, businesses must employ strategic security measures, such as

  • regular security assessments
  • incident response planning
  • backup strategy

Security assessments help identify vulnerabilities and rectify them before they can be exploited. On the other hand, incident response planning ensures that a business is prepared to respond quickly and effectively when a breach occurs.

Another crucial aspect of data protection is creating a comprehensive backup strategy. A resilient backup plan should consider the 3-2-1 backup rule (not Dusty bin), which involves maintaining three copies of data stored on two different media types, with one copy kept off-site. Moreover, encrypting backup data is critical to safeguarding it from unauthorized access. Businesses must also carefully consider their backup storage locations, ensuring they are secure and easily accessible for disaster recovery.

Disaster recovery planning goes hand in hand with data backup. It involves establishing procedures to restore normal operations following a data loss event. Having an emergency response in place is crucial for effective disaster recovery. Even on your own or as a team, everyone should be trained to handle various data loss scenarios and be equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to restore operations swiftly.

Backup Solutions and Tools

Finally, choosing the right backup solution is critical. Various backup solutions are tailored for small businesses, including cloud-based services, software options, and hardware devices. When selecting a backup tool, businesses should consider factors such as scalability, security features, and cost-effectiveness.

Scalability is crucial as it ensures that the chosen solution can grow with the business. Security features are equally important, protecting backup data from various threats. Lastly, cost-effectiveness ensures that the solution provides value for money.

In conclusion, navigating digital threats, implementing a robust backup plan, and selecting the right backup tools are key to maintaining data security. By understanding the evolving landscape of digital threats and developing a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery plan, businesses can better protect their data and ensure business continuity.

Book a clarity call with us today to better understand how these strategies can be tailored to your business needs. Our team of experts is ready to help you navigate the complexities of data security and backup solutions. Together we can ensure your business is prepared for any digital threat.

Building a Secure Data Environment: Practical Steps and Strategies

Building a Secure Data Environment: Practical Steps and Strategies

Securing Your Data

Data security involves several practical steps. Firstly, consider secure storage solutions to protect against unauthorized access. Secondly, implement strong password policies to deter hackers. Finally, don’t underestimate encryption. Encrypting your data makes it harder to decipher if it falls into the wrong hands.

In addition to these technical measures, employee training is key to preventing data breaches. Educate your team on risks and how they can help mitigate them to create a human firewall against data security threats.

Introduction to Data Backups

Data backups are crucial for any data security strategy. They allow you to restore information in case of cyberattacks, hardware failures, or natural disasters. Backup options include cloud backups, on-site backups, and off-site backups. Cloud backups provide convenience and easy access, while on-site and off-site backups offer additional protection against data loss.

Developing a Backup Strategy

Start developing a backup strategy by assessing your business needs. Determine how often and what data to back up. Once you have this information, implement a process for reliable backups. This may involve automation to perform backups regularly without manual intervention. Also, regularly test your backups to verify their integrity, ensuring your data can be restored.

Small businesses often store personal information and operate electronically. Protecting such information from unauthorized access is crucial for a business’s reputation and smooth functioning. Complacency about security can leave the business and its clients vulnerable. Cyber attacks can affect businesses of all sizes, so ensuring data safety is important.

1. Back up your data

Regularly back up your data. If using an external storage device, store it somewhere other than your workplace. Encrypt and lock it away to reduce the risk of losing all your data in case of a break-in, fire, or flood.

Check your backup to ensure it’s not connected to your live data source, preventing any malicious activity from reaching it.

2. Use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication

Use strong passwords on all devices and accounts where personal information is stored. These passwords should be difficult to guess. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recommends using three random words.

Consider using multi-factor authentication, which requires at least two separate forms of identification before access is granted.

3. Install anti-virus and malware protection

Keep your anti-virus software updated. It can help protect devices against malware sent through phishing attacks.

4. Be wary of suspicious emails

Know how to spot suspicious emails. Look out for signs such as bad grammar, demands for urgent action and requests for payment. If unsure, speak to the sender. NCSC provides useful training materials for recognizing suspicious emails.

5. Be aware of your surroundings

Be mindful of who can see your screen, especially in public or shared workspaces.

6. Take care when sharing your screen

Before sharing your screen in a virtual meeting, close anything unnecessary and switch off notifications and pop-up alerts.

7. Make sure your Wi-Fi connection is secure

Always use a secure connection when connecting to the internet. Consider using a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) if using a public network.

8. Protect your device when it’s unattended

Lock your screen when you’re temporarily away from your desk. If you need to leave your device for longer, put it in a secure place, out of sight.

9. Limit access to those who need it

Implement access controls to ensure people can only see the information they need. When someone leaves your business or is absent for a long period, suspend their access to your systems.

10. Don’t keep data for longer than you need it

Delete data you no longer need to free up storage space and reduce risk in case of a cyber-attack or personal data breach.

11. Dispose of old IT equipment and records securely

Ensure no personal data is left on any device before disposal. Consider using deletion software or hiring a specialist to wipe the data.

Don’t wait to secure your data. Start implementing these strategies today and transform the way you handle your data. Remember, data security is a dynamic process and not a one-time event. You need to stay vigilant and updated.

Book a clarity call with our data security experts to further assist you on this journey. They can provide personalized guidance and answer any queries you might have. Take control of your data security now. Stay vigilant, stay updated, and, most importantly, stay secure.