Easy to overlook, even easier to forget, but what is the importance of a strong password?
We’ve all been there - creating a new account for an online service or a newly discovered online shop we can feel will be our new favourite (until we finally run out of money/wardrobe space); we’re asked to create a password and… well, they’re always a challenge to remember so, let’s just go with something simple like ‘admin123’ or use the same password as we use for our online banking, and our email address because we’ll definitely remember that…
Whilst choosing a password may feel like a rigmarole - an unnecessary step to getting to the information you need, making changes to your accounts or maintaining your websites, in reality, passwords are one of the most integral elements used to ensure your, often sensitive, information is kept safe online.
It’s easy to overlook passwords, particularly for things like websites and Social Media, which will undoubtedly have more than one user, but - particularly for businesses - it’s these customer-facing platforms that are absolutely the most important places to exercise a strong password.
So, in this light, let’s look at the importance of a strong password.
Securing your site against hackers: hackers - people who gain access to the back-end of your website without permission - love rummaging around websites, and changing things they shouldn’t; deleting important information, replacing corporate images with x-rated ones or locking you out of your own site. Hackers can do a lot of damage, not only to your website, but also to your reputation, and one of the easiest ways for them to get into your website is by guessing your password. Having a strong password - i.e. one that’s not easy to guess - will reduce the risk of harmful hackers getting in and messing things up.
Reducing the risk of viruses and botnets attacking your site: created by hackers and bitter developers with nothing better to do, viruses love getting into websites and breaking things for the fun of it. What’s more, once they’ve completed their nasty little task, viruses often move on and start attacking other websites associated with yours in some form which, let’s be honest, is not only dangerous for your own website, but also potentially damaging to relationships with any sister companies you may have - it’s one thing to repair your own site, it’s another to have to repair 2 or 3 others, too!
Helping to ensure your website is always available: if your site gets hacked or gets a virus, you’ll more than likely have to isolate and repair it, which means that it’ll be down or broken until you’re able to fix it. This will inevitably have a negative effect on your online sales & enquiries; if your visitors can’t access your site, can’t get the places they need, or can’t take the right actions, they’re incredibly likely to leave and go to your competitors, whose sites will be working properly. Whilst it may seem a little dramatic and far-fetched, in reality, a malicious attack on your site thanks to a weak password can lead to a loss of income; something no business wants to experience.
Although strong passwords are arguably the most important element to consider when keeping your information secure online, it’s often also the most overlooked.
It may or may not surprise you to know that:
As recently as 2013, 90% of all online passwords were considered vulnerable to hacking
70% of people do not use a unique password for each website they access
A third of users share their password with others
Ideally, passwords should be created using a random password generator, and changed every 6 - 8 weeks. Password generators are free online tools that use a set of algorithms to create a unique combination of numbers, letters, and characters that will be almost impossible to figure out.
Always use a unique password for each platform you use - never use the same password for everything or a variation of the same password for different things; if a hacker manages to find their way into one of your platforms, they’ll probably try others, too, and start by using the password they know has just worked for them elsewhere.
Never share your password! Sharing your password, even with your work bestie or a responsible member of your team, is a really bad idea. At the very least because you then don’t know what they’re doing or who’s changing what - your password controls your account, and if you’re not in complete control of it, who is?
Strong passwords not only keep your information safe from hackers, viruses, and malicious botnets looking to cause trouble, but they also help to keep your business running smoothly, your sales & enquiries rolling in, and your brand reputation in tack.
Think of a weak password as an open door to a room full of your most precious possessions; don’t let the burglars in!
If you’d like support with, or more information about, your online security, contact us today.
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