How to Create Strong Passwords for Your Small Business
Creating a strong password is a fundamental aspect of safeguarding your small business's digital assets. Cybercriminals are well aware that most people tend to create easily memorable passwords and will often reuse the same password across multiple accounts. This means gaining unauthorized access to just one account can provide a swift pathway to infiltrating others. Having a highly secure password can help thwart hackers and protect your business accounts—as well as your (and your employees’) personal information.
In this article, we'll further explain why small businesses need strong passwords, offer helpful tips for creating secure ones (including using a generator), and break down the benefits of password managers. Keep reading for all the details.
Why Small Businesses Need Strong Passwords
Cybersecurity is a top concern for small businesses, and strong passwords are the digital keys to protect your sensitive data, financial information, and the integrity of business operations. In an era where digital assets are at the core of small business success, weak passwords can expose a business to significant risks, including data breaches and financial losses.
Strong passwords are not just a precautionary measure; they are an essential element of a robust cybersecurity strategy, helping small businesses safeguard their digital assets, maintain customer trust, and ensure uninterrupted operations. They make it significantly harder for unauthorized individuals to gain access to your business accounts and sensitive information. Weak passwords are a common entry point for hackers, and a strong password can be the barrier that prevents a data breach, saving your business from costly consequences.
Tips for Setting Up Strong Passwords for Your Business
A strong password should include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters in order to make it highly resistant to brute-force attacks. If you are wondering “How strong is my password?”, an example to compare with yours might look something like this: "R$7&xYv*P2qW!9zE."
You can also follow these tips to enhance your password security:
- Keep it complex: Use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays or common words.
- Create long passwords: Longer passwords are generally more secure. Aim for at least 12 characters or more.
- Avoid common patterns: Steer clear of obvious patterns like "qwerty" or "abc123."
- Have unique passwords: Never reuse passwords across multiple accounts. Each account should have its unique password.
- Update your passwords regularly: Change your passwords at least every few months.
- Avoid personal information: Don't use publicly available or easily obtainable personal information, such as your name, in your passwords.
- Use passphrases: Consider using passphrases, which are longer combinations of words or sentences, making them both strong and memorable.
- Test the password security: You can test how secure your password is through online tools, which analyze your password for weak points.
Finally, don’t forget about your WiFi password. WiFi routers and other devices typically come with default passwords, which are printed on the box. To keep your network secure, change your password at your first opportunity, using a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers.
4 Strong Password Generators
There are several strong password generators that you can use for your small business. Some great options include:
LastPass is a password management tool with a password generator that creates complex and unique passwords for each of your accounts. You can use LastPass online or download the app, which is free on both the Apple App Store and Google Play.
With 1Password, you can create highly secure passwords and benefit from advanced security features like Watchtower, which alerts you to compromised passwords and security breaches. You can access 1Password via the website or by downloading the mobile app, though a paid subscription is required for most features. An exception is the password generator, which is free on the 1Password website.
Quickly create a unique password with Keeper’s free tool. Beyond generating passwords, Keeper, has paid plans with password management, two-factor authentication, and secure file storage. You can explore these features via the brand’s software or mobile app.
Developed by the creators of NordVPN, NordPass combines strong password management with the security expertise of Nord Security. You can use the NordPass generator to create complex passwords for free, or sign up for a monthly plan. With a plan, you can easily detect weak passwords, scan for data breaches, and more. You can try the tool (via web or dedicated mobile app) with a free trial.
What Is a Master Password?
A master password is a single password that you can use to access all of your business’s digital accounts and platforms (a master key, if you will). The master password essentially acts as the gatekeeper to your small business, providing security, organization, and convenience in managing your online presence. It's a critical component of a robust cybersecurity strategy that helps protect sensitive data, maintain regulatory compliance, and mitigate the risk of cyber threats. If you’re the owner of a small business, the master password should be exceptionally memorable only to you.
What is an example of a master password?
An example of a master password could be a passphrase like "BlueDragon$42Sunset$Pineapple!," combining words, numbers, and special characters in a way that's meaningful to you but difficult for others to guess. Another tip is to create a password by combining the initials of a memorable phrase along with numbers and symbols, like "IL!veIn2Oceans&Sw!m!". It could also be a combination of random characters, such as "J7#kL$P9&yR5@," which can be highly secure.
Remember to regularly update your master password and never share it with anyone unauthorized. This can help you ensure your small business's digital assets are secure.
How To Use a Business Password Manager
Small businesses often have numerous online accounts, from email and banking to web hosting and software subscriptions. Typically, each of these accounts has a different password, which can be tricky to remember. That’s where password managers come in. A business password manager is a specialized tool designed to help organizations securely store, manage, and share passwords and other sensitive information. The tool is typically hosted on a secure server or cloud-based platform, and not everyone in the business may have direct access. The level of access can vary; however, it's common for the business owner or designated administrators to have primary control over it—which reduces the risk of loss or unauthorized access.
Using a business password manager can streamline the process of creating strong and random passwords and storing and managing them. This type of tool also enables business owners to securely share passwords with team members, ensuring controlled access to sensitive business accounts. Another advantage is that the tool can auto-fill your login credentials, simplifying the login process.
Most of the password generators we mentioned above are one piece of larger password management tools and have plans specifically for businesses.
More Internet Security Best Practices
There are practices that not only help protect against a wide array of cyber threats but also establish a robust foundation for secure online operations. Here are some things you can do to help keep your business secure:
Have a response plan
Even if you have a strong password, you'll want to have a contingency plan ready in case the worst-case scenario unfolds. Cybercrime, service disruptions, and data loss pose potential threats to your business, but you can minimize their impact through a well-structured response plan. Anticipating an attack and responding promptly can expedite your business's recovery process.
Hide your WiFi network from search
To enhance security, you might consider concealing your WiFi network from public view, thereby preventing the visibility of your network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Additionally, if you need to grant WiFi access to individuals other than your employees, you can establish a separate guest account with a distinct password. This allows clients and customers to use your WiFi without giving them access to your primary network.
With Optimum Business PRO WiFi portal, you can create a guest WiFi network separate from your main network. The guest network’s login portal can be customized with brand-specific imagery and content, and can be used to gather data about your customers (such as their email addresses and names). This data can be used to further your business strategy and marketing tactics. Perhaps more importantly, access to free, reliable WiFi is an added incentive for customers to frequent your business.
Protect with VPNs and firewalls
Virtual private networks, or VPNs, encrypt both your connection and the activities you conduct while online. As such, VPNs can be a beneficial tool for small businesses—especially those with remote employees. Given that an employee's home WiFi may not offer the same level of security as your small business's network, employing a VPN ensures the security of their connection, regardless of their location.
Likewise, firewalls play a pivotal role in fortifying your network by acting as a barrier against malicious software and traffic. Their primary function is to thwart unauthorized entities from gaining access to your sensitive data. This becomes especially vital when your employees are working from home, necessitating stringent measures to ensure the security of devices used for work. Additionally, it's worth noting that many
Optimum Business is committed to helping your small business thrive. Discover how we can help your business further with our marketing tips and resources. firewalls come equipped with built-in antivirus software, providing an added layer of protection to your network and devices.