In recent years, billions of people have been affected by data breaches and cyberattacks. Not only have people lost money, but they also lost their security. We hear about these cyberattacks every day and it's easy to think, "Why should I protect myself if the stats are against me?"
Or are we against the stats?
52% of us use the same passwords for different online services. This means that half of us have decided we're happy to risk our financial security and personal identity, and that can be a costly mistake. It turns out, one of the easiest ways you can protect yourself from becoming just another statistic: use a password manager. At Five Nines, when a company comes to us for managed IT solutions, we consider how they can tighten up their data security. Let's talk about ways you can quickly improve your cyber-security habits so you avoid the risk and become less of a predictable target.
1. Choose a password that's not obvious.
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology's updated guidelines as of 2019, your passwords should be user-friendly and memorable, but not easy enough for a stranger to guess. You can use longer phrases that are easier to remember than complicated passwords, such as “I support the NE Huskers.” You should also avoid overly simple passwords. Hackers take bad, commonly used passwords like "huskers1" and try to test it against lots of people to see who they can breach online. Since many people in Nebraska probably have a password like this, it's a good rule to avoid this style of password.
2. Use a password manager to track all of your passwords in one place.
At Five Nines, we recommend two password managers: LastPass and 1Password. LastPass has a free option and allows you to automatically save and fill passwords on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. It can automatically change passwords for you and even shows you how strong your passwords are on its platform. The Emergency Access feature also lets you pick one or more contacts who can access your passwords if anything were to happen to you.
1Password is a great paid option for families or small businesses who want to store some of their passwords and it's Watchtower feature lets you know if any of your passwords are known to be compromised. Bottom line: you can vary up your passwords more often when you have a place to put them.
3. Be aware of data breaches.
Stay aware of when breaches are reported and when they do, double-check that your information wasn't compromised. Right now, according to a new report by Risk Based Security, 2019 is on track to being the “worst year on record” for data breach activity. Besides checking places like the Identity Theft Resource Center (a California based non-profit that puts out information on the latest data breaches), you can also use free tools, like Credit Karma. Their identity monitoring service will alert you about data breaches and exposed passwords so you're in the loop about a potential threat. Your managed IT solutions provider should discuss potential data breaches with you.
As IT professionals, we know how cumbersome changing passwords can be, but these are the tools we use at Five Nines, and we hope by passing them along, your information stays safe and out of sight. We’re here to help as your managed IT solutions provider.