Passwords are now an expected and typical part of our data-driven online lives. In today’s digital culture, it’s not unusual to need a password for everything—from accessing your smartphone, to signing into your remote workspace, to checking your bank statements, and more. We’ve all grown used to entering passwords dozens of times per day, and because of this, we often take passwords for granted and forget how crucial they are.
With that in mind, what steps can you take to ensure that your personal data is protected at all times? As a data-driven, security-focused company, we’ve rounded up our top tips for World Password Day in hopes of helping you improve your password game.
Consider a password overhaul—at home and at work
We know… just the mere thought of coming up with (and remembering) yet another new password is daunting. The average person has about 100 different passwords for the various tools, apps, websites, and online services they use on a regular basis. With so many passwords to keep track of, those familiar “Update Password” prompts tend to get bothersome.
But, unfortunately, we live in a world of constant hacking attempts and security breaches. While changing passwords may be inconvenient at times, following this password best practice can help prevent the following data catastrophes:
- Giving hackers easy access to your most sensitive accounts
- Breaches to multiple accounts that share the same or similar passwords
- Attacks by keystroke loggers who steal common login credentials
- Loss of data through shared (and easily stolen) passwords
Although it requires time and patience, password protection is one of the most important things you can do to safeguard your personal, professional, and sensitive data. The list below includes four easy and practical tips for creating better password policies.
1. Increase the complexity and length of each password
There’s a reason that websites and online services provide so much direction when prompting users to create new passwords. Variation in both the complexity and length really does matter when it comes to protecting your accounts. Always incorporate both upper and lowercase letters, numbers, special characters, and symbols into each password you create.
When used in combination, complexity and length make passwords much harder to guess at random. This tactic also prevents users from relying on common phrases or personal identifiers (such as date of birth) when making new passwords. A password that contains only lowercase letters of a simple phrase is much more vulnerable than a complex combination of different characters.
2. Use a password manager
Password management software takes some of the brunt out of remembering the many different combinations you use around the internet. Generally, a password manager requires the creation of one master password. Then, you’ll be given the option to connect different logins that are then placed into your password “vault.”
Many password managers also encrypt passwords to create an additional layer of protection. This means that once you’re logged into the password manager, you may be able to login automatically to different websites, but the exact characters of your unique passwords aren’t always visible.
3. Never store passwords in plain sight
Although it’s tempting, you should never record passwords on paper or in plain sight somewhere on your desktop (such as on a notes app). These methods are easy to spot, which makes them even easier to steal. Additionally, it’s not very difficult to lose, misplace, or throw away passwords that you store on paper.
If you ever need to share passwords or login credentials with another individual (perhaps a family member or an approved coworker), always choose a secure method. Password management software also comes in handy when you need a secure way to share passwords.
4. Use multi-factor authentication wherever possible
Strong passwords make a big difference, but sometimes, additional security is necessary. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is the process of protecting your digital password with a physical form of identification. For example, when you enter your password into an online account like Gmail, you may receive a code to your mobile phone that you’ll have to enter for an extra line of security. MFA is an effective way to prevent cybercriminals from accessing passwords via third party online systems.
Multi-factor authentication can be conducted in a variety of ways—it might include a quick fingerprint scan, a phone call, a text message, or a code. While MFA does add another roadblock to accessing your account, it’s a simple, yet powerful way to strengthen data security.
Password security with FormAssembly
If you’re already a FormAssembly customer, you know that FormAssembly takes security and privacy seriously. Our platform has special measures in place to make password protection as easy as possible for our customers as they access their accounts and individual forms.
- SAML: SAML stands for Security Assertion Markup Language, and it can be used to secure access to your FormAssembly forms and account. You can set this up through a single sign-on method using SAML credentials, or by enabling form authentication. To learn more, visit the help docs.
- Administrative controls: With FormAssembly’s admin dashboard, you can add, deactivate, restore, or edit users and set authentication types to make sure only the right individuals can access your forms.
- Changing your password: If you need to change your password for any reason, you can do so within your FormAssembly account settings. It’s good practice to update your password manually from time to time, being careful to use different and new password combinations.
Take data privacy seriously
We hope that World Password Day inspires you, your team, and your organization to place data security at the top of your priorities. Enhancing your unique passwords is just one of the many ways that you can lock down any potential vulnerabilities and prevent cybercriminals from accessing your information.
If you enjoyed this post and want to learn more about other data-inspired holidays, check out the roundup of some of our most popular and helpful resources for Data Privacy Day.