A recent article on CBC.ca stated that Russian hackers have stolen 1.2 billion user names and passwords in a series of internet heists affecting 420,000 websites. This is alarming and small business owners who keep their files in the cloud, should be worried and should be changing all their passwords regularly. Most big businesses have security protocols that require users to change their passwords on a regular basis, but small business owners think they will not be targeted by hackers and are often more lax.
Here are some tips to keeping your small business secure and up to date:
• Choose a day of the week to change your passwords and make it a routine. If you get into a routine of changing your passwords on a specified day, you will find that it takes very little time as it becomes second nature. This could also be the time that you can check those sites you use for any security updates or potential vulnerabilities. Most sites affected by a major hack will inform customers via security alerts.
• Prepare a list of passwords and keep them on a thumb drive or in a secure password locker. It can be a chore if you have to come up with several new passwords each week. But if you spend a few minutes each month to come up with new passwords, you will not find it too much of an effort.
• Choose strong passwords that are not easily guessed, or contain real words that a software program can guess. Strong passwords should contain letters, numbers, uppercase characters and punctuation. Even using those types of characters does not guarantee that a computer will not be able to guess your password – but it will definitely slow them down. By changing your password regularly, you will also help prevent a hacker from gaining access to your online files.
• Do not recycle passwords. Hackers know that people do this. Just because they do not gain access this week, does not mean that they will not try again next week or next month to see if that password works. There are several password randomizing programs you can find, but choose one from trusted sites – such as antivirus companies like Nortons.
• By far the best advice on internet passwords is to not use the same password on multiple sites. Whilethis might make it easier to remember them, it can also make you more vulnerable to a cyber attack on multiple levels. Once hackers know your password on one site, they will try to see if it works on other sites that you access.
• Disaster recovery of your online data can only work if you put the effort into backing it up and keeping it secure.