Think about your typical online experience. Perhaps you check your email, see what friends and family are posting on social media, and do some online shopping. All very common activities, and all ones that require a username and password. Or think about a typical morning for the employees at your office. They might need to connect to VPN, access multiple email accounts, and perform work via a cloud-based CRM or other application. Chances are, again, that each of these work activities requires a unique username and password. Passwords are a ubiquitous and critical part of our personal and professional online lives.
At the same time, we’re not that good at them. A Nextgov article titled, “It's 2018 And The World Still Sucks at Passwords” reports that more than half of IT leaders have reused the same password in work and personal life, “violating the cardinal rule against password re-use.” So, it’s not just the average person who practices poor password security, but decision-makers within the IT industry itself have also developed some poor password habits. Furthermore, research from a password management security company suggests that nearly 10 percent of people have used have used one of 25 of the "worst passwords" which include "123456", "password", and "starwars".
It’s not just the passwords we create that puts a business at risk, it’s also how we store and share them, knowingly or not. Did you know that more than 30 percent of employees keep track of passwords by writing them on Post-It Notes and more than 60 percent of all data breaches result from weak or stolen passwords?
Being able to securely manage your employee’s passwords is essential to protect your firm’s operations and your data. That’s why more and more companies today are turning to a password manager to help keep their information secure.
In IT, password management refers to the ability to centrally manage and store team-based passwords within an online “password vault.” The password manager is an application that stores and organizes information like usernames and passwords that you and your team rely on to log in to various websites and applications. Today, there are numerous options to choose from, but let’s first identify the key benefits of using a password manager for your business.
Advantages of a Password Manager
Here, we’ve identified what we see as the top four benefits to using a password manager, though there are numerous others and you’ll likely discover additional value once you adopt and implement your own password management system.
Practice airtight security.
Recall the statistic from above that more than one-third of employees write their passwords on a piece of paper. This presents a risk because passwords can be gleaned by nefarious internal or external actors at your business who have access to an employee’s work area. If passwords are obtained this way, it can be very difficult to track the source of the suspicious activity. With a proper password manager, however, you’ll have a clear and accurate record of who accesses what password and when, which will help you track and thwart potentially dangerous activity.
Poor network and password security places your business at risk of a cyberattack as hackers can exploit sloppy or dangerous password habits. Even if your employees’ password behavior is well-intentioned, just one weakness (like unknowingly sharing a password with “shoulder surfers”) can put your operations at risk from infiltration. With a password manager, your data is locked in a trusted, secure, and reliable management tool. In addition to secure storage, a password manager will also help your employees select stronger passwords – most tools allow you to generate random and very strong passwords within the application itself.
Ironically, a strong password often means that it can be hard to create and remember. A password manager can drive business efficiency by reducing the time it takes to document, recall, and reset passwords. For example, a password manager can reduce the number of password-reset tickets your employees submit, which will reduce work stoppages and might also be a relief for your IT staff. Employees will save time as they only have to remember one password to log in to the password manager itself. Most password managers today are intuitive, easy-to-use, and accessible on multiple devices.
Lastly, a password manager can help you improve various processes at your firm. You can store all of your operational procedures in a secure and centralized location so that everyone on your team is following the same best practices. Passwords shared amongst a team will all be stored in one secure yet accessible place. You and your IT team can control who has access to what passwords for greater security and accountability.
A password manager will also help you improve your overall network and password security, as the application can be used to not just store passwords but to generate random and strong passwords. Depending on your firm or industry, you can also utilize a password manager to store other critical business data and information, such as retail or credit card information.
Protecting your Information
We hope this post helps you understand the benefits of a password manager for all of your online activities. We suggest first taking some time right now to assess your general password security. In a previous post, we presented several tips for selecting a strong password, including:
The longer the stronger – aim for 12 to 15 characters
Make it unique – don’t use a password that appears in a dictionary.
Avoid using your home phone number, address, name, social security number, or any other identifying information.
Don’t reuse passwords on multiple accounts.
Don’t allow your browser to remember your password. While it’s convenient, it’s also not the safest practice.
Don’t give out your password to others.
Are you following all of the above best practices? Either way, the second step toward improved cybersecurity is to consider and select a password manager. While breaches of password management tools have occurred, we believe that the benefits outweigh the risks. Today, password managers are very safe to use.
Look for a reputable password manager application with a well-protected “vault” or one that is recommended and deployed by a managed IT services provider, like N8 Solutions. Make sure it will support all of your needs in terms of devices, operating systems, and browser windows.
At N8 Solutions, we can help you identify the best questions to ask and talk through some of the top options before you commit to a password management application.
Please get in touch with us today – we aim to make IT simple, honest, and transparent and our people-first approach means that we’re easy to speak with and here to help you!