Passwords are a key weak point in cybersecurity. Addressing these weaknesses requires not only an awareness of good password practices to employees but also bolstering the level of protection given to passwords and points of entry.

Passwords are a keystone in every cybersecurity strategy. As the main point of entry, a password-protected gateway is a crucial vulnerability, especially to data breaches that cannot be blocked by firewalls such as hacking and social engineering. An array of programming tools can be used to reinforce the

Every small business should take the necessary precautions to bolster its network security against data breaches, and improving password security is a crucial step toward greater network security. Besides requiring its employees to have secure passwords, businesses must also take steps to secure their passwords and make it difficult for a mere password breach to access sensitive data.

No Time for Overconfidence

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Poor password habits are a tired old joke, yet it remains one of the greatest threats to security for many businesses that rely on internal networks. Movies have lampooned the innate foolishness of using passwords that too easy to guess, a common mistake that is now being discouraged by websites across the board. The temptation to use an easy-to-remember password makes it all too easy for cybercriminals to use algorithms to guess it, and websites today are now steadily discouraging this practice.

Employees of all ages may not be adequately informed (or worse, be completely misinformed) about cybersecurity; in fact, many younger millennials and Gen Z users today overestimate their cybersecurity knowledge, while older millennials and Gen-Xer understand the dangers of it all too well. Fortunately, the older members of the Gen-Z demographic are also much more familiar with two-step verification systems, which can mean that their transition toward such a system in the workplace will not be a bad one.

Breach Sources

Unscrupulous cybercriminals have utilized a broad array of tools to mine out passwords, many of which are done with no need for them to do anything else. Easy passwords are guessed almost instantaneously through algorithms that use trial and error. Meanwhile, more difficult passwords are often compromised through malware.

A cybercriminal may only need to create a virus or key logger to send via e-mail a set of potential victims, to be installed on their computer without their knowledge. Key loggers can analyze the keystrokes used by the unsuspecting users of a computer, harvesting their passwords without their knowledge.

Finally, cybercriminals may use impersonation and other social engineering tactics to harvest data from unsuspecting individuals who may give vital information away without their immediate knowledge.

Countermeasures

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Password managers and two-factor authentication can mean a world of difference for the security of an enterprise. Applying two-factor authentication is one way to reinforce the points of entry that have previously been defended with passwords. Although it may not prove to be popular with employees at first, this method can help slow down the entry point of cybercriminals impersonating employees without taking too much out of their time.

Putting passwords under lock and key using a password manager, meanwhile, can help employees bypass the need to have one password for everything by having passwords stored in a secure place, which needs only its password to access—which can be strengthened by sheer length. Remembering only one password while having multiple adds another barrier against unauthorized access.  

Rather than leaving employees vulnerable to various cybersecurity risks, businesses should also include password safety policies and educate them about the dangers of phishing and social engineering attacks. Besides securing the business for the long-term, these habits can also help protect the employees themselves from being compromised.