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On The Hill: Radar Hill Blog

Protect Your Passwords - And Your Business

When was the last time you changed your passwords? Important accounts like Google, social media, Microsoft, banking, and others that are used daily, are linked to your personal and financial details, and so if someone hacked into them it could be a disaster. 

One way to protect yourself and your accounts is to have secure passwords. But with this comes the issue of coming up with them - and remembering when needed! So then you choose something simple like “password123”, or use the same password for all accounts, and you know this isn’t secure but it’s the easiest solution for you. 

There are however ways to have secure passwords which are easy to maintain, which we’ll discuss in this blog. 

Do You Really NEED Secure Passwords?

The first thing to discuss is what is the point of having a secure password? Think about this: what is important for your business? Is your brand’s message important to you? The carefully curated content on your social media feeds? What do you say to your customers and clients? Your inventory and B2B relationships? 

All of that can be compromised if your passwords aren’t secure. For even the simplest things like your email address or social media accounts, your business could have serious issues if your passwords are stolen. If someone malicious wanted to harm your business, they could eesily do so with just a few passwords. 

Stolen passwords can lead to problems in your business such as:

  • People posting content on your site that is explicit or spam
  • B2B orders and inventory being compromised
  • Your bank account information being at risk
  • Your payment accounts like PayPal, Stripe, etc. being at risk
  • Payroll being at risk
  • Communication with contractors being compromised
  • Strangers having access to your private branding, marketing, and other business strategies
  • Ads being canceled, altered, or otherwise compromised

A neat online tool is Have I Been Pwned where you can enter your email address and see if your accounts have ever been compromised - the results might surprise you. But don't be stressed if your accounts have been breached. It’s almost impossible to be online and NOT have any accounts compromised in some way, which is why you should not use the same password for all accounts.

If someone gets into one account with a password, it's very easy for them to get into another account if it has the same password. The solution is to have complex passwords that you change regularly - at the very least once a year, if not every few months. 

What Would You Do To Avoid Compromising Your Business?

Think about one of the aforementioned problems happening to your business and all the damage control you’d have to do to fix it. Now imagine if all of them happened at once. Some stranger posting illicit websites to your social media accounts. A hacker draining all the funds from your business bank account. Not being able to pay employees. Contracts with B2B and freelancers you rely on are destroyed. Would your business be able to recover from these scenarios?

There are a million tiny decisions that are carefully made every day by you and your staff. Passwords that aren’t secure allow people outside your business to derail your work and possibly destroy your business beyond repair. So much trust and dependency is put into so many accounts online, so it's important to safeguard it all. 

Use Complex Passwords

The best way to protect your accounts is to use a complex password. This does not mean “Crocodile123!” but rather something more like “Chy_3rdfF7&rT”. 

Of course, remembering something like this is almost impossible, so something that some people use is good old fashioned pen and paper to store passwords. And it might seem like a good idea at the time, but what happens if you lose it? What happens if you’re somewhere new and don’t have access to the paper? Plus it’s inconvenient and time-consuming to always have to type it out.

Others use a word or excel document on their computer to store passwords, but this also has huge security risks. It’s putting a lot of trust into your computer software, and what happens if you can’t get access to it? 

Another popular way of storing passwords is through your browser and having them autosave. This is not a good idea, as all someone has to do is have access to your computer (remote or physical) and, unless you have a Master Password feature in place, those passwords are available for anyone to see.

Use a Digital Vault to Store Your Passwords Securely

In our experience, the most secure way to store passwords is with a purpose-built digital vault. We use LastPass, which can keep your passwords on an encrypted account so all you need to do is remember one complex password, and the rest are stored securely. This way, your passwords are always there when you need them but still secure enough to give you peace of mind. 

There are of course options other than LastPass for securely storing passwords, but whichever program you go with, it is a far better option than paper, computer document, or browser.

Share Important Information Seamlessly

This isn’t a LastPass advert (we are not affiliated with them!) but something else that is important to deal with is sharing passwords within a business. It’s not advisable to send passwords via messenger or email. Those transmissions can be intercepted and then you’re right back where you started. But your team needs passwords to get into all the pieces of your business with which they collaborate. 

This is what LastPass’s “Teams” option is for. You simply add people to your team and your digital vault becomes theirs too! Be careful who you share information with though, and ensure you’re comfortable with them accessing any sensitive information, even if they’re friends or family. Your team should always be trusted people, and if you can’t trust them with your business, you shouldn’t trust them with your passwords.

If you don’t have LastPass or another password vault, sharing passwords securely can be tricky - but very necessary sometimes. You can share via text one part of the password and by another messaging platform the other part, and email the username for example, to keep it secure. 

Don’t Be Scammed Out of Your Password

For many accounts nowadays it’s not just a password that is used for security, but also security questions. Things such as “what is your mother’s maiden name” or “what street did you grow up on” or “what is the name of your first pet”. 

If you use the real answers, then these can be easily hacked. Especially if you divulge the information on Facebook. It is a good idea to use fake answers to these questions, to increase the level of security on your account. 

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Having an unsecured password can compromise not only your finances but your business, and it’s incredibly easy for software to hack into accounts that use an easy password. But by having a complex password, and changing it as often as you can, you reduce your risk of having your accounts - and your business - compromised. 

The importance of having a secure password cannot be overstated, but it’s something that is not dealt with often and left to “another time”. But do not leave it to another time, and ensure that your accounts are as secure as possible. Future you will thank you.