What’s my password?

PB-logoHere is my August Management Matters column in Prairie Business Magazine

Every month or so, there seems to be news of yet another large data breach. Invariably the press release goes something like, “Recently we were attacked by criminals who illegally accessed data we had stored on our servers.” Many organizations, large and small, online and brick and mortar, profit and not for profit, have succumbed to these malefactors.

Predictably, the organization then conducts a sweeping security audit and establishes new security protocols including an enhanced user password policy. This makes sense when you consider that most of us have “weak” passwords that are seldom changed. According to SplashData (www.spashdata.com) “123456” is the most common password, which only recently bumped “password” from the top spot. Number three was the equally original “12345678.” Perhaps the additional two digits added some sense of security.

Many sites now require passwords with a c0MbinAt!oN of special characters (#$!) , upper/lower case letters, and one or more digits. The resulting passwords are gibberish and impossible to remember. So what to do? Many people have resorted to keeping lists of passwords, either pen-and-paper or electronic, but there is a much better way. There are several excellent password manager programs available that are either free or very low cost. These are much safer than any “hidden” list you have and you will never again ask the question “What’s my password?” Take the time now to investigate these important tools — do not wait until you are a statistic — and then recommend that your coworkers do the same. PB