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Technology Tip of the Quarter: Evaluate Passwords

Any good manager is worried about the security of his or her business. We’ve all heard about the destruction hackers can cause, from wiping out bank accounts to causing immeasurable long-term hassles.  It’s likely we’ve tested the passwords we use on a daily basis, not only in our businesses but in our personal lives as well.  But are our employees being as proactive against cyber crime as we are?

This quarter’s “Technology Tip” is a simple one… something that should be shared with every employee and family member, and doesn’t cost anything to implement:  Check the safety of the passwords you use, and protect those passwords.

Much has been written on this.  Just Google “password security”.  It may sound easy and so logical, but is so worth repeating.  Follow these steps, and your password should be secure enough not to be “uncracked”:

1. Determine the security level of your password; in other words, determine who needs to have access.  Is it something that everyone but the custodial staff needs access to?  Or does it protect information that is detrimental to your business or personal life if in the wrong hands?  You may want to have 3 or 4 passwords, one for different levels of needed security.

2. Come up with a password that is “uncrackable”:
– Start out with a sentence that you can remember, like “I want to retire to the mountains of North Carolina next year if I can”.  (It should have at least 8 characters.  More is even better.)
– Shorten it by using the first letter of each word: IwtrttmoNCnyiic
– Substitute numbers for some of the letters: 1w2r2tmoNCny11c
– Make sure you use upper case and lower case letters (this example already does).
– Substitute symbol(s) for a letter or number:  !w2r2tm0NCny!!c

There you have it.  A really tough-to-crack password that’s easy to remember.

3. Now that your password levels have been determined, and your passwords are developed, be sure they are not written down and stored on a sticky note in the top drawer of a desk. There are some really great “password manager” programs that will store and organize your passwords, help you avoid being a victim of phishing (illegally posing as a legitimate business online in order to get sensitive data such as log-ins passwords or social security numbers), and can even save time in filling out on-line forms by remembering personal information. Just be sure to do some research before downloading or purchasing – some software might contain built-in spyware.

With good management, your log-in information, passwords, and sensitive data will remain safe and secure.

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