With more of our private communication stored online comes serious security risks. Information such as health care information and financial transactions is important to keep secure. Having a strong password strategy can be the frontline defence to confidential user information. Businesses need to ensure their employees have a strong password policy so unauthorised access does not occur. Password policies are a set of rules to increase computer security by encouraging users to create reliable, secure passwords and then store and use them properly. 

The importance of a password policy

Cyber security is important for every business, big or small. Using a strong password at work can be as important as it is at home. It’s your own personal bodyguard defending you with everything it has against security threats. As IT technology expands, so do the number of attacks and breaches that occur. Cybercriminals may steal passwords from unsuspecting or untrained employees. 

Typically, a cyber attacker only needs a single opening or password to access all valuable information of a business. It’s more likely for data breaches to begin with a phishing attack or an insider threat than with a brute-force password cracking attempt. Besides a password policy, IT departments should also do their best to protect accounts with technical controls — for example, encrypting all passwords that are stored on the company’s network and enforcing mandatory lockouts after a certain number of failed log-in attempts.

How to create an effective password policy

Most users understand the nature of security risks for easy to guess passwords. It may, however, become difficult for employees to remember several passwords for multiple accounts. Therefore, system administrators are now a big part of making sure each user is well aware of the security risks they face day-to-day and how to help them with this challenge. To achieve this, you need strong password policies and practices. Here are some of the password policies that your business can implement to reduce risks:

Enforce a password history policy

Recycling is good for the environment, but not for your company’s password management! A password history policy will ensure employees don’t repetitively use passwords. This policy may stop users from reusing previous passwords, preventing them from alternating between a handful of common passwords.

Minimum password age policy

This policy determines how long users must keep a password before they can change it. This minimum age period may prevent employees from using a new password, then changing it back to their old one. Businesses should discuss and scrutinize with specialists the time given to employees to change their passwords. This policy may prevent a user from immediately changing a compromised password, so administrators should keep this in mind and manually help change these for employees.

Password length policy

This policy determines the minimum number of characters needed to create a password. You would want to set the minimum password length to at least eight characters since long passwords are harder to crack than short ones. For even greater security, you could set the minimum password length to 14 characters. A word of advice: if you haven’t changed the default setting, change it immediately as sometimes the default is set to zero characters, meaning that it allows empty passwords.

Complexity requirements

By enabling that passwords must meet complexity requirements, you’ll go beyond the basic password and account policies and ensure that every password is secured following these guidelines. Passwords can’t contain the username or parts of the user’s full name, such as their first name. Passwords must use at least three of the four available character types: lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

Final Words

By contacting Techninc, your local Denver IT company, you can learn some of the basic considerations when establishing a strong password policy for your organization. Find out some of the best practices and industry standards when it comes to user access and a password policy framework with us!