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The importance of password management on enterprise networks

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Password management is an essential cybersecurity component, but not one that enterprise networks seem to take seriously enough. A single compromised password can cause chaos in a system, and the breach can wind up costing millions of dollars in damages. The average cost for a data breach is around $3.8 million dollars. That’s only the average!

Some data breaches, like the Equifax breach of 2017, cost much more. This one in particular cost about $1.4 billion in damages. Protecting your enterprise network from a data breach starts with protecting your passwords. Let’s look closer at why this step is so crucial to your overall cybersecurity.

You Can’t Trust People To Create Strong Passwords

Ouch—that seems like a heavy statement to make. You mean I can’t trust my own employees to create strong passwords? The answer is…no. Or, at least, not on their own. If you want employees to create better passwords at work, you’re probably going to have to reinforce good password habits. Using a password manager like Keepersecurity.com will help users create better password habits while simultaneously providing a more secure password management and storage tool.

The bottom line with password management is that people don’t create strong passwords without some help. Most people actually recycle passwords, use familiar phrases, numbers, or easy-to-remember combinations, and don’t really consider the impact of a bad password. On an enterprise network, the security of everyone’s accounts depends heavily on how each user is securing their individual accounts.

Strong passwords are complex and contain over eleven characters. It’s important to always encourage employees to change their passwords every 90 days or so, as well. An old password is more vulnerable than a new one, and in the case of any suspicious activity or a breach, everyone on your network should change their password.

Forgetting Passwords

How often does your company’s help desk get a ticket for a lost or forgotten password? The answer is almost always too often. Forgotten or lost passwords cost businesses a lot of time and money, which is just another reason why a password manager is a crucial component of any business.

Password managers allow you to store and secure hundreds of passwords. You can even create shared team folders, and with autofill features, your employees won’t even have to manually type in their passwords. This will help reduce those help desk tickets and make your workforce just a bit more independent while also securing the network.

Poor Passwords Are The Cause Of Most Data Breaches

When a company experiences a data breach, it’s often linked to poor login credentials like passwords. Of the eight most common causes of data breaches, bad passwords and login credentials are number one. Hackers can use a variety of methods to hack passwords, but the two that come to mind (and that are used most often) are:

Brute Force Attacks: This is done with password cracking software and a computer or network with fast processing speeds. The hacker uses the software to start from scratch and try trillions of password combinations in just a few minutes. With the right hardware and software, a good hacker can penetrate an enterprise system in under ten minutes.

Dictionary Method: This method uses common phrases and number/letter combinations. There are lists available on the web of the most commonly used passwords and phrases that can be found with a simple Google search. The dark web is home to even more extensive lists. This method can be quite effective, and again, with the right software and hardware, a hacker can break into accounts in no time.

Longer, more complex passwords are your first line of defense against cyber attacks. Combining good passwords with further protection (like MFA) puts more space between the attacker and your private information. The more space you put between the hacker and his prize, the longer it takes. This gives you more of an opportunity to spot an attack before it’s completed.

Liability And Customer Information

If you store customer information on your system, you’ll be held accountable if a data breach occurs. The Yahoo! Data breach of 2013 affected about three billion people across the globe, and cost about $350 million dollars. People’s personal information was exposed, causing a general panic and plenty of backlash for the company. The bottom line is that you’re ultimately responsible for any of your customers’ data that lives on your enterprise system, so protecting it should be a top priority.

There’s always a chance you can be sued as well if there’s enough damage done. A breach is something that will take millions to recover from, but adding court costs and lawsuit settlements on top of those costs can bankrupt a smaller business.

Final Thoughts

Whatever size your network is, the system should have the best protection available. This starts with securing passwords and reinforcing good password habits in your employees. Make sure they’re creating strong passwords, and use a password management system to store and secure passwords. This will help reduce help desk tickets, costs, and possibly even prevent a data breach in the future.

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