Website Security September 14, 2022

6 Tips for Strengthening Your Account Security

8 min read

 

The world is a digital place, and sadly that means crime has gone digital too. You’ve probably heard more than enough of the many high-profile data breaches that have plagued the online space last few years. Sadly, these breaches, or at least, breach attempts, are only set to increase as we work, play, and live in digital spaces more frequently. For businesses and private entities alike, keeping your accounts safe and secure has to be a priority of any actions you take in digital spaces. For businesses, particularly, with the added load of both customer and employee data to protect, strong security practices need to be a priority. Today, we take a look at some key steps you can follow to keep your account security top-notch, no matter what cybercriminals throw at it.

Revisiting the Password

Passwords remain our frontline defense against unwanted intrusion into our digital workspaces. Yet, as people are forced to create and maintain more and more online profiles, we’ve become even worse at using short, simple passwords simply for convenience. And it’s common for people to feel less engaged with their workplace passwords and data security than they may be with their private data. The use of common passwords is frighteningly common. And unfortunately, hackers can crack these easy-to-guess passwords in less than a second.

Long, unique, and complex passwords, on the other hand, are near impossible to crack, even with automated software trying brute force logins. However, while H0ljhjh322!gX may be a near-uncrackable password, it’s also tough to recall on a daily basis. Especially when you bear in mind that you should be using unique passwords for every site.

However, your frontline defense against hackers remains a 16 character password with a rich mix of special characters, upper- and lowercase letters, and numbers, that’s unique to the site you use it on.

Helping Password Retention

To help offset some of these difficulties, as well as make an even more secure password, staff should be encouraged use of multi-word passphrases as an alternative. A well-thought-out passphrase is not only easier to remember, but also far less susceptible to guesswork.

Protecting Personal Information

Surprisingly, this has a double effect on the safety of your business accounts, as your personal data is often used to help construct passwords. As a wide-ranging presence on a variety of social media platforms has become the norm for staff, you’d be horrified to know how much personal information can be gleaned from these sites by nefarious wrongdoers. Everything from full names and birthdates to the names of family members and pets, your latest vacation spot, and your favorite food can easily be pulled from just a little time spent on your socials. 

Obviously, no one wants a criminal knowing all about them, yet many people still mindlessly participate in unsecured ‘fun quizzes’ and ‘status games’ that divulge all-too-much personal information to unknown parties. And to make it worse? We often default to this same personal information to craft our passwords, giving them unfettered access to our work accounts, too.

Simply educating staff on the perils of information oversharing can do wonders to enhance account security, and when paired with diligent backups, gives you fantastic protection.

Two-step logins

Two-factor authentication means you initiate entry into an account with a password, but the second layer of information is needed to complete the login. Most commonly this takes the form of a randomly generated security code sent to the authorized person’s mobile device. Some more sophisticated systems use biometrics to provide this second layer of security.

This renders stolen passwords redundant, as the hacker cannot penetrate the second layer defense. However, some users still refuse to embrace the power of two-factor authentication. In all honesty, these arguments are moot. It takes mere seconds to use a second verification step, and the exponential improvement in security it offers is well worth the time and effort expended to use it.

Encryption

Of course, none of our steps so far solve the issue that complex and unique passwords are also difficult to retain. While the use of passphrases can make it easier, there’s still a limit. Fortunately, we’ve seen a ton of securely encrypted ‘vault’ apps launch, allowing people to store passwords safely and conveniently. Encryption, commonly used by financial institutions to protect most sensitive accounts, means that without the correct decryption key (often a master password), any data recovered is simply rubbish. Look for services using 256-bit encryption, the same level used by both banks and the CIA – it would take so long to beat this level of encryption that it’s essentially uncrackable.

Secure Access Points

It’s wise to leverage the same power of encryption to protect access to your entire business systems. In a world where more people are working in decentralized offices, often globally, there’s a lot of data passing back and forth. If these connections are not secure, it’s frighteningly easy for criminals to simply grab it as it ‘passes’ in cyberspace, and do what they please with it. Using tools that encrypt this data before it passes into a space where it can be intercepted helps preserve the safety and integrity of your business accounts. It’s also remarkably easy to do with business-focused VPN tools which can also bring further security aspects like IP masking to the table as well.

Keeping your business accounts safe and secure in the digital age is a must. Regardless of the size of your business, customers need to know that the sensitive data they entrust to you is being correctly cared for and handled at all points. With robust attention to security matters, you ward off cybercrime and enhance your customers’ trust- and that’s a win-win in any situation.

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