Five Tips for Keeping Passwords Safe
Check out the key issues your users should always be aware of when it comes to password security.
I admit I've also been guilty of this in the past. When I used to test software builds, I "collected" several workstations in my office to use as test machines. Over time, managing login passwords for so many different machines (each with several different iterations of Windows, Mac OS, and other operating systems installed) became quite a chore. I'd been an adherent of the "don't write them down" school of password-security thought, so that wasn't an option to me then. I thought I'd make life less complicated by creating passwords for all the test machines that were very similar variations on something familiar to me.
Although these machines were never used for higher-risk activities outside the corporate network like browsing the Web, this still reflected bad judgement on my part. My scheme wasn't all that hard to figure out, and, when I forgot one of those passwords, my department's desktop support person person gave me a much-deserved lecture.
From that point, I adopted a better password creation and management system. To make these workstations less vulnerable to security breaches, I:
- Changed my passwords frequently.
- Stopped using the same or similar passwords across PCs, even if they weren't network-connected. These weak passwords could have put proprietary information stored on my local drive in jeopardy.
- Started using a password manager program and a password-protected spreadsheet. The program helped me create stronger passwords that didn't rely on any easily obtainable personal information. The spreadsheet gave me a secure, easy way to keep track of all the different passwords created by the program that I applied to my test machines.
I'm not saying the system is complete or 100 percent unbreakable, but it's far better than my prior approach. I also applied portions of this strategy to devices on my home network, making them less susceptible, too.
The Knowledge Network contains several handy resources on creating secure passwords, including a sample password policy designed for organizational use. For my password carelessness, I got lucky in that all I suffered was a little embarrassment; I could have contributed to a security breach that might have been very damaging to the company. Use our tools and templates to create and implement a password policy to minimize risks associated with compromised information.
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