You would never leave your house unlocked, windows open and side gate unbolted. Many of us would never even dream of leaving a spare key under a mat or plant pot as it’s just too obvious. Yet, many of us are guilty for not having adequate security for our computers; a place where all our personal and business data is stored.
So, whether you are a large organisation or a self-employed business owner, here are some things you can do today that will ensure your data is protected from hackers and Ransomware attacks.
A strong password is your first defence and will protect you as long as it is not easy to guess. One of the most common ways hackers will break into your accounts is by guessing, particularly if they already have information about you such as your name or date of birth.
John123 across all your platforms, isn’t going to cut it in this day and age.
However, a password that is difficult to guess is likely to put off any would-be intruder who will move on to another machine.
The best passwords will:
- Use 3 x random words
- Include special characters (*&)!@
- Have a mixture of numbers and capital letters
- Be 18 characters or more
So, how long would an 18-character password take to crack? Well, the following table should be enough to have you reaching for your password reset options!
|Password length (using just numbers and letters)||Time to crack||Time to crack if password used special characters|
|9 characters||2 minutes||2 hours|
|10 characters||2 hours||1 week|
|11 characters||6 days||2 years|
|12 characters||1 year||2 centuries|
|13 characters||64 years|
Two-factor and multi-factor authentication
If changing your password isn’t enough for you, there is yet more you can do to protect yourself in the way of two-factor and multi-factor authentication.
This is an electronic authentication method where a user is only granted access to a website, files or applications after successfully completing two or more stages where they present evidence or knowledge to prove they are the rightful owner.
There are three ways a user can do this:
- Knowledge – the user provides information that only they know like a username and password, or an answer to a memorable question.
- Possession – the user has access to and then supplies further information such as a one-time passcode which is emailed or sent via text.
- Inherence – the users relies on characteristics specific to them such as a fingerprint, facial or voice recognition or a retinal scan.
Two-factor authentication will only ever use two of these factors to verify the user’s identity.
Multi-factor authentication could involve two factors of authentication or if could involve all three. The term ‘multi-factor’ simply means more than one but it is more likely to mean three and is more secure. However, two-factor authentication will only ever use two factors.
Microsoft Authenticator is a fantastic application to download that will generate time-based codes during the authentication process
Websites that support two-factor authentication
There are numerous websites that now support this higher level of security including:
- Microsoft 365
For some of us, we have countless logins to countless sites and ensuring we have different passwords for each can be a little laborious. If you spend your life clicking ‘forgot password’, then this is something you might want to look into.
With features such as auto fillers, password generators, and storage capabilities, the following password managers will save you time when it comes to logging on safely and securely.
Keeping your information protected and your devices safe is not as difficult as it may seem. Making one of these small changes could save you the stress of being a victim of identity theft or ransomware attacks.