Q: How can I create an unhackable password for my business?
–Cautious Business Owner
A: Dear Cautious:
Picking a strong password is a critical cyber security practice all business owners should master. Weak passwords can make your secure accounts vulnerable to hackers, increasing your risk of fraud, identity theft and security compromises. Strong passwords strengthen your defenses to all these threats. But how do you pick an unhackable password that you can remember? Generic tips such as including numbers and symbols won’t cut it in the face of hacking techniques designed to crack the most sophisticated codes.
Your password needs to be a carefully chosen string of letters, numbers and symbols in a combination that’s difficult, if not impossible to guess. The thing is, hackers don’t simply guess at passwords; they use a combination of knowledge, experience and strategy, which helps them hack into accounts in much less time than you’d think.
So, what makes a password unhackable? The truth is, no password is truly unhackable (there are only so many possible combinations of letters, numbers and symbols); but some include elements that make them nearly impervious to hackers’ efforts and intelligent password cracking software.
Use a full sentence or phrase. Professional hackers that identify security risks in company networks suggest that using a whole sentence or phrase is much more secure than just a word. Hackers use dictionaries when guessing passwords, and using a sentence or phrase will foil this method. Make sure your sentence or phrase contains numbers and symbols, as well. If the sentence you choose is too long, take the first letter of each word in the sentence. This way, remembering the sentence is all you need. And, as a bonus, consider making it an empowering sentence that inspires you each time you type it in.
Keep your password long. The longer your password, the harder it will be to guess. With more letters, numbers and symbols come more possibilities, and the hacker must work through those options to get the right one.
Go against convention. Do you capitalize the first letter of your password? Throw in one or a two at the end? Expert hackers say these techniques are easy to guess because they are predictable. Capitalize a different letter, and vary your placement of numbers and symbols.
Don’t use personal information. This is perhaps the biggest mistake you can make when creating a secure password. Using your phone number, birthday or address will only make the hacker’s job easier. Try picking a phrase or sentence that no one else would know or could guess.
If you need help protecting your business from threats, start by sitting down with a Family Business Lawyer™. They can help you make strategic decisions about your business technology, including choosing secure passwords that will protect sensitive information. A Family Business Lawyer™ can identify potential security threats to your business and help you put adequate protections in place to ensure your success.