How To: Protect Your Usernames and Passwords
Before we get to the “how to,” we want to share a real-world example of insecure password management that one of our Master Certified Professionals encountered while traveling.
Does This Sound Like You?
My seat mate on a flight from Denver to Houston opened their laptop to start working shortly after take-off. I looked down and saw a business card taped to the palm rest of their laptop. The card contained system web locations with associated user IDs and passwords. Surprising, given the current state of cyber awareness.
When we were served lunch, I introduced myself as an EVAN cybersecurity professional and gently asked why critical information was taped to the laptop palm rest. My seat mate lamented, “I have a ton of systems I need to access while I’m on the road. I can’t keep track of all the user IDs and passwords by memory.”
What Can You Do Differently?
This cybersecurity nightmare demonstrates the challenges of keeping up with IDs and passwords for systems needed to support a company’s day-to-day operations. The nightmare is further magnified because the same user ID and password should not be used across multiple systems, especially financial systems. This helps reduce the chances of a cyber thief gaining access to everything by hacking one ID and password.
As we continued through lunch, I shared two ways my seat mate could manage their volume of user IDs and passwords:
- Use password protected Excel documents to keep track of the systems with associated IDs and passwords. The current version of Excel has very strong encryption that is almost impossible to break. Make sure access to the file is also protected by a strong password.
- Use a password manager like Dashlane, Keeper, or LastPass.* Again, use a strong password to access the chosen manager. Many of these password managers will create strong passwords for users that are almost impossible to break.
After the food trays were taken away, I spent a few minutes helping my seat mate create a password-protected Excel document and transferring the information taped to the laptop. At the end of the flight, we said our goodbyes with my seat mate commenting, “I’m going to take the rest of my IDs and passwords on yellow stickies in my desk drawer and put them in this Excel file.”
For an additional layer of security, we also recommend enabling two-factor authentication.
*EVAN is not affiliated with or compensated by any recommended product.
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