Technology

The Short and Sweet on Passwords

Mayday, Mayday, Mayday

From the desk of…Mendy McEntire, Marketing, Finley & Cook

I don’t know about you, but when I receive the little alert that my password will expire in 3 days I go into a tailspin.  How can something so simple wreak such havoc on all my senses?

Maybe because the average American has over 100 accounts that require some sort of password identification and the average employee can have up to 25 or more unique logins.  Far too many numbers and symbols for my brain to keep track of.  No wonder I get all out of whack!

I reached out to Cyber Security expert Bob Simpson for some much needed advice and practical sense when it comes to the dreaded passwords.  Here is what he had to say…

How to Have Fun (and secure) Passwords

Changing your password probably doesn’t top your list of fun activities. To make matters worse, the requirements keep getting longer.

To have a secure password these days, you’ll need to pick a password that is at least 12 characters long. Yikes, you say! That is a long password! Well, it is, but it is also way more secure than a short password. So, it has to be long, but it doesn’t have to be dull, or even difficult.

Here, I’m going to share a super quick method to create a secure password.

Simply pick a phrase regarding your favorite music, movie, or person. Resist the urge to get too crazy w1th th3 spelling, because you’ll never remember which letters you switched out. This advice may seem different than what you’ve heard in the past, but these days it is well understood that a long password easily trumps a short password (no matter how complex or difficult).

So, pick a phrase or question that is fun or meaningful to you and make it your password (caps, spaces, punctuation, and all). It is best to change popular phrases slightly, but in a way that’s easy to remember.

That’s what I did with the phrase from the movie Elf. The original, of course, was, “Smiling is my favorite!” The examples below are simple, fun, and quick to type, even though they all have over 20 characters.

Examples:
  • Always listen 2 Hendrix.  (Reminder: Jimi)
  • When did Jackie get married? (Reminder: 2006)
  • Smiling’s my favorite, too! (Reminder: Elf)

 

More Elf references (slightly altered to make them safe passwords):

  • You are a South Pole elf.
  • Your finger has a heartbeat?
  • You cotton headed ninny muggings!

Whatever you do, pick something that inspires you or makes you smile when you type it, because you’ll be typing it a lot, and typing something boring is just silly.

In the words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

 

Have Fun!

Bobby Simpson

Passwords and Business

Passwords are often the first place that hackers look for easy entry into vulnerable computers and devices.  No matter how strong you and your employees think your passwords are, remember this:  hacking software can test up to 10 billion password combinations in seconds. 

With new data breach reports popping up every day, companies are responding to the need for password security.  According to recent research, more than 90% of large companies have a centralized password management policy.  But less than 25% of small businesses do, which is a major problem – since 2012, cyberattacks on small businesses have increased by more than 150% according to Symantec.

Bobby Simpson
CIO, Finley & Cook
bsimpson@finley-cook.com

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