Turn on the news and chances are there’ll be at least one story of a computer hack, be it a data breach affecting millions or a single celebrity having their personal pictures or messages posted for all the world to see.
In your personal life, this can be emotionally devastating. But when it comes to your business, it can actually bankrupt you.
You don’t have to learn to be a computer expert to protect your company’s website or social media accounts. An easy way to begin protecting yourself is by using strong passwords.
Why is it Important to Protect Your Business with Strong Passwords?
First, let’s break down the problem by looking at a few stats:
- A hack is attempted every 39 seconds. Just in the time it took you to read the previous paragraph, a couple of attacks probably occurred. To put this into some perspective, in the United States a murder is committed every 30 minutes, a rape every 4 minutes, and a car theft every 41 seconds. Only general burglar is more prevalent at 22.6 seconds and hackers are closing in on that number.
- In 2018, global drug trafficking brought in $400 billion. By comparison, cyber-crimes netted the hackers over $600 billion.
- Businesses are woefully unprepared for attacks. The majority of companies (75%) don’t have a formal plan for cybersecurity. And of those small businesses which are attacked and compromised, 60% will go bankrupt within six months of the attack.
- With social media, 22% of the billions of people on these platforms have been hacked and 14% have been hacked multiple times. And to show you that the platforms themselves aren’t totally secure, remember: Facebook was hacked and the data from 50 million users was compromised.
- And the big issue—81% of data breaches were successful because of a weak password which was easy to hack. If your passwords aren’t strong enough, then chances are you could become another statistic.
What Makes a Password Strong?
If you’re still using something personal or “easily remembered” for your password, you might as well be handing your company’s website over to the hackers. Strong passwords are not your birthday, your kid’s birthday, or some combination of their names.
In order to be strong, the password should be:
- At least twelve characters, but more would be even better and
- A RANDOM mixture of capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters (@#$).
But that isn’t the only thing you can do to protect your password.
Hackers like to use something called a brute force attack on your accounts. This means they try every possible combination of the password.
If you had a four-letter password, they might start with AAAA then try AAAB and AAAC and so on. They keep this up until they hit the right combination which gives them access to your account.
Once they have this password, if you reuse or recycle your password on multiple accounts, they now have all of those passwords as well. (For instance, they may hack your email but then get your bank account because you use the same password.)
In order to prevent this, limit the number of log-in attempts. (Most sites have this under settings.) After three attempts are unsuccessful, the system locks down and prevents the hackers from getting in.
What’s the Best Ways to Manage Your Passwords?
Now if you’re like me, you probably had a hard time remembering your old passwords when it was your anniversary or child’s birthday because you have a hard time remembering those dates as well.
So how are you supposed to remember a mixture of sixteen random characters?
The answer is with a password manager.
Another thing these allow you to add is two-factor authentication. This means you enter the password and then the site sends you a code to your phone as a text message.
If the code isn’t entered, the system locks your account. Hackers can guess or steal your passwords. But unless they have also stolen your physical cellphone, they won’t be able to enter the second code sent to your phone.
Clients: Be Careful Who You Give Access To
Let me also just end on one personal note. Very often I see my clients who have given total access to their accounts to their marketing department or outside marketing company.
Many turn over the keys to their website and social media accounts as well as digital assets such as project management tools or personal accounts. In my experience, THIS HAS NEVER WORKED OUT WELL.
No professional marketer is going to take offense if you limit their access to these tools. They realize you need to protect yourself and your business. In fact, your marketing agent WANTS you to limit their accessibility.
They also expect you will delete their access AS SOON AS YOU terminate the working relationship. This takes the liability off them if the next marketer should happen to mess up something on your accounts while they still have access.
Since you’re running a business that uses the Internet for marketing or sales, you’ve got to protect yourself. That means making sure your password is as strong as possible, so hackers decide to leave you alone and move on to an easier target.