Best Practices For Business Password Policies

Cybersecurity has become increasingly important — and increasingly complicated — as businesses digitize their operations. With more data vulnerable to online threats, strict password policies are more vital than ever. Here are five essential password practices business owners should implement to protect their online information.

Use Unique, Strong Passwords

This practice is straightforward enough, but many people still use basic passwords like “123456” and “password” because they’re easy to remember. Of course, they’re also the first guesses for anyone trying to hack into the account. Companies cannot afford to be lazy with their passwords.

Strict Password Creation Is Key

It’s crucial to set strict password creation standards for all accounts, no matter how trivial. Many online platforms require user passwords to check off these boxes:

  • At least 16 characters
  • At least one number
  • At least one special character
  • No repeating passwords
  • Nothing similar to the username or the email account

These policies make it more challenging for hackers to access the account’s private information. Some businesses and government organizations take it further and require multi-word passphrases instead of passwords.

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) requires users to pass another obstacle after entering their accounts’ passwords. The extra step can be simple — like a pin, phone number, or recovery email — but it’s usually a specific question about the account owner.

Examples Of MFA Questions

Here are a few examples of common MFA questions:

  • Who is your favorite actor or musician?
  • What was your kindergarten teacher’s name?
  • What was your first stuffed animal?

Whatever the question might be, it must have a singular, unique response. For example, if the kindergarten teacher’s name was Mrs. Johnson, someone could easily guess the answer. A name like Mr. O’Shaughnessy makes for a great extra authentication answer because hackers are less likely to guess it.

Change the Passwords Often

It’s also a smart idea for businesses to change their passwords at least every three months.  

This practice is essential for industries with high turnover rates — disgruntled former employees are one of the most likely culprits of cyberattacks. Whenever an employee leaves, change the passwords and other authentication steps to eliminate the threat.

Activate Login Alerts

As more organizations join the bring-your-own-device culture, they become increasingly vulnerable to external threats. The more devices involved, the more entry points a cybercriminal has. Companies should activate alert notifications to know when unknown devices log in to their accounts.

Getting login alerts enables companies to identify potential security breaches quickly. The warnings specify where and when someone tried to access the account. This extra security layer makes cybercriminals less likely to infiltrate the business’s accounts from their own devices.

Consider Using Password Protection Software

Companies should strongly consider using password protection software as they expand. Most software includes end-to-end encryption and other security measures that ensure everyone can access the passwords they need without fear of compromise.

The best password managers have built-in multi-factor authentication and release frequent security updates to keep up with the fast-changing digital world. These updates improve the software’s ease of use and add new security measures to combat emerging threats.

Think Like a Cybercriminal

To effectively implement cybersecurity measures, businesses need to think like cybercriminals. Companies with weak, stagnant passwords, no activated alerts, and no protective software are easy targets for hackers.

Those that update their complex passwords often have real-time alerts and use advanced security software will be much safer and primed for success in online business.

Lavanya Rathnam

Lavanya Rathnam is an experienced technology, finance, and compliance writer. She combines her keen understanding of regulatory frameworks and industry best practices with exemplary writing skills to communicate complex concepts of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) in clear and accessible language. Lavanya specializes in creating informative and engaging content that educates and empowers readers to make informed decisions. She also works with different companies in the Web 3.0, blockchain, fintech, and EV industries to assess their products’ compliance with evolving regulations and standards.

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