Sharing is caring but not when it comes to the passwords of your business accounts. Don’t give your keys away.
Are you relying on your memory to manage your personal and work accounts? Do you use sticky notes or diaries to keep track of multiple passwords and changes? Are you using “123456” or “iloveyou” as a password for your precious business accounts? Or locked yourself out of an important account for a day (or longer) from too many login attempts?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’ve probably had a stolen password at some point or relied on the “forgot password?” option more than once to retrieve your website or social media accounts. A password management system can help by securing and managing passwords and protecting the credentials against unwanted access.
But what is a password management system and how can it help a small business like yours? A secure password management system is created by encrypted software that saves and manages all your passwords at one secure location. It makes it easier for a business to manage team members’ access to accounts while protecting the credentials against scammers and hackers.
Another top perk of a PWMS is that any changes are applied instantly (whether their access changes or changes to the passwords themselves), no more forgotten passwords!
A password management system is important to protect all your branding assets including your digital accounts (think website, financial and social media accounts). Imagine having a vault of precious jewels, protected by lock and key. Wouldn’t you protect the keys to such a vault in a secure place? Similarly, your branding assets such as your business website and social media accounts are as precious as gold and silver. Don’t give the keys to your assets away!
As an example, think about your bookkeeper who might only log in to certain financial accounts quarterly or annually. Chances are good that you’ll have changed the password between their scheduled logins.
If you’re like many service-based businesses, chances are you’ve changed those passwords at 11pm on a Saturday night while you’re playing catch-up, are you going to text your bookkeeper then? Or what if you need to give someone access once to a sensitive account or fire a team member who may have memorized sensitive passwords? If you’re using a PW management system like LastPass, you won’t need to change passwords or send team members updates all the time about changes.
At NSDS, we create a password management account for each client when we start developing their website design. Once a project concludes, our clients take over that Password Management System account. Being your trusted web designers, we ensure the best possible security for your online accounts and website by leveraging established and trusted password management systems like LastPass.
Before we review a couple of password management systems, let us discuss why password management systems are important and what are their benefits.
Why Password Management Systems are Important?
You might be wondering why password management systems are important when you can note down the passwords on paper or create a spreadsheet? The simple answer is that an insecure password management system leaves the businesses, their assets, and even the business owners themselves vulnerable to the attacks of cybercriminals, hackers, and even disgruntled employees or family members (the latter being the most common in our experience). The following statistics reveal some major outcomes of inefficient password management.
- 59% of Americans rely on human memory to manage their passwords whereas 75% of the people say that they feel frustrated trying to maintain and keep track of their passwords.
- Only 31% of IT professionals report that their organizations use a password management system to secure passwords while 42% of IT professionals report that their organizations use sticky notes to manage passwords.
- 62% of organizations reported that they didn’t take the necessary steps to secure mobile data.
- 27% of the Americans have tried to guess someone else’s password and 17% of those were able to guess it right.
These statistics indicate how vulnerable your password is in the absence of a secure password management system.Â
Password Management Systems Can Protect Your Business Against The Latest Acoustic AttacksÂ Â
Recent research from British universities has unveiled a startling fact: hackers can now use a microphone to record the sound of your keystrokes and, with a deep learning model, accurately predict what you’re typing with a staggering 95% accuracy. Even using platforms like Zoom for training, the prediction accuracy only dropped slightly to 93%. It’s a cyber threat that’s both surprising and concerning.
This type of attack can have severe consequences for your business. It can expose passwords, private discussions, messages, and other sensitive information to malicious individuals. What’s more, unlike other cyberattacks that require specific conditions, acoustic attacks have become simpler due to the prevalence of devices with microphones, making them a significant concern for businesses.
Understanding Acoustic Attacks
To grasp how acoustic attacks work, let’s start with the basics. The first step is recording the sound of keystrokes on your keyboard. This recorded data is crucial for training the prediction algorithm that hackers use. They can achieve this by using a nearby microphone or by compromising your phone, which might grant them access to its microphone.
Another sneaky tactic is during a Zoom call. A rogue participant can correlate the sounds of your typing with the messages you’re sending, potentially compromising your information.
The researchers conducted their experiments using a modern MacBook Pro, an iPhone 13 mini placed about 17cm away from the target, and Zoom for testing.
How It’s Done?
The researchers processed the recorded keystrokes to create waveforms and spectrograms, which helped them identify unique patterns for each key. These spectrograms were then used to train an image classifier called ‘CoAtNet.’ This required some tweaking of parameters like epoch, learning rate, and data splitting to get the best prediction accuracy.
Protecting Your Business
Now that we understand the threat, let’s talk about how to protect your business. If you’re worried about acoustic attacks, there are some practical steps you can take. You might consider changing the way you type or using randomized passwords. Other options include using software that mimics keystroke sounds, generating white noise, or applying software-based filters to your keystroke audio.
It’s essential to note that even if you have a very quiet keyboard, it can still be vulnerable to this type of attack. This means that adding sound dampeners to your mechanical keyboard or switching to a membrane-based keyboard might not be enough.
In the end, the best defense includes using biometric authentication wherever possible and relying on password managers to input sensitive information automatically. Password managers are a great solution because they securely store your passwords and fill them in for you. This makes it incredibly challenging for attackers to capture your keystrokes.
Benefits of Password Management Systems
The following are some of the benefits of password management systems.
1. Secures your Data against Data Breach
According to a study by Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a single data breach in 2015 was around $3.79 million. If you are wondering that these figures are only about big businesses and might not describe you, you are wrong. 43% of all cyberattacks target small business owners.
A password management system strengthens the security of your digital accounts. By encrypting your passwords, you’re addressing the most common source of data breaches and boosting your company’s data security dramatically. Password managers produce strong, difficult-to-crack passwords for user logins. This way your data is protected against hackers.
2. Convenient to Use
Password managers are convenient to use. Imagine working in an office where you have to search for 10 different passwords on sticky notes. Password managers make it easy and convenient for the whole team to access the digital accounts. It results in a seamless and frictionless experience for all the employees.
3. Centralized Management
A password manager stores all the passwords in one place. The robust admin controls can automate the key processes, and manage and maintain them conveniently. This means you have more control over your business assets despite working with a team.
It allows you to change certain passwords when required. If a website where you have an account has been hacked, you may keep safe by creating a new password with the built-in password generator. Some password managers allow you to reset your passwords with a single click. For further security, you can choose to change all of your passwords regularly.
You can also restrict the use of passwords to a certain group with perfect ease. This feature is helpful if you rotate your employees in certain groups in different departments of a business.
4. A Password Manager Generates Difficult to Guess and Safe Passwords
For each of your accounts, password managers may generate random passwords. Password cracking software is programmed to guess the most common passwords first, thus truly random passwords are significantly more secure than those created on the spur of the moment.
5. Sharing Passwords is Easier and Secure with a Password Manager
Passwords to joint accounts can be shared with relatives or coworkers. Of course, it’s not a good idea to share your passwords, but a password manager allows you to regulate who has access to passwords for shared accounts.
6. Saves Time through Autofill Feature
A password manager makes all your data accessible in a short period. Instead of allowing your web browser to save your form data, use a password manager to keep track of your personal information.
7. Using the Same Password Manager on Different Devices
Many password managers allow users to access their accounts from various devices. This is becoming increasingly crucial as we use our mobile devices more frequently (and as more websites provide optimized mobile experiences). Passwords for apps are also supported by several password managers.
Maintaining Brand Ownership: Tips for Better Brand Management
Your brand is unique. Setting up automated systems to protect your brand not only saves you from negative consequences but also enables you to grow faster. Having a password manager is only one example of such an automated system.
Another simple hack of brand protection is keeping the ownership of accounts created by other marketing agencies or web designers for your business. Ensure that your businesses’ email is set up as the main contact point. The marketing company’s email could be the recovery email to ensure the smooth operation of their services.
Some other tips for better password management are as follows:
- Always use secure passwords. Forget using your date of birth, iloveyou, the name of your loved ones, or any such easy to guess the word. Use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols in your password. Services like LastPass will even suggest randomly generated PW options. And, sure, their suggestions can feel a bit convoluted BUT the software will remember the PW for you so who cares how difficult it is to memorize!
- Avoid using the same password twice. This puts you and your company in danger of being hacked. Use a different password for each website where you create an account.
- Use two-factor authentication (2FA). Many websites will provide you with the option to enable 2FA. When you log into an account, you must take an additional security step. It will normally arrive in the form of a text message with an authentication code sent to your smartphone. This sometimes presents a challenge when a team member is trying to grab codes in real-time and the main account holder may not be available. This should be a consideration when choosing a 2FA method on a given account. If offered, Email 2FA or Secret Questions may be a better route on certain accounts.
- Update passwords regularly. This should be done every 2-3 months as a general rule. When you use a password manager, you can keep track of all of the logins and passwords that need to be changed in one place. That being said, it’s obviously a challenge to keep track of that sort of timing. We suggest clients update PWs quarterly and opt in to any Dark Web monitoring services that their digital PW management system may offer
Which Password Manager Should You Choose?
A variety of password managers are available but the following two stand out due to their high-quality services, better user experience, and customer support.
LastPass Premium includes cross-platform syncing, safe sharing, password strength analysis, and dark web monitoring, among other things. Consumers can choose from three different LastPass plans; Free, premium, or family. The free edition includes all of the typical password manager features, as well as a few extras that other services charge for.
Some other features include auto-filling, a password generator, one-to-one sharing, encrypted notes, a password strength report, and multi-factor authentication support. LastPass is one of the most secure password managers. Passwords are encrypted using the most up-to-date techniques (AES-256, PBKDF2 SHA-256, and salted hashes). Your master password never leaves your laptop, and LastPass never sees your passwords in plaintext.
At the device level, your passwords are encrypted and decoded. Your master password, as well as the keys used to encrypt and decode data, are never sent to LastPass’ servers, and neither LastPass nor the Information Security Office has access to them.
The premium version of LastPass costs $3 per month whereas the family version costs $4 per month.
Given its competitive price point and the visual simplicity of the dashboard, LastPass is currently our #1 pick for Password Management.
1password is another outstanding password manager. It secures your data with industry-leading security features including plenty of helpful supplementary tools and is reasonably priced.
Some of its great features include the opportunity to create customizable vaults. You can easily create vaults for Personal, Financial, Travel, Work, and Family passwords. It also keeps an eye on the health of your passwords. You are notified if a password is weak, susceptible, duplicated, or compromised. It also allows you to conceal critical passwords when traveling abroad.
1Password has a secure yet simple authentication method for adding new devices. It also supports multi-factor authentication.
The standard edition of 1Password costs around $3 per month whereas the family plan costs $5 per month.
1Password wouldn’t have made this list if we didn’t have extensive experience with it. Honestly, 1P was what NSDS used for years, only recently having migrated to LastPass based on feedback from clients who prefer the LastPass interface.
Keeping the hackers and scammers out of your accounts and systems is critical for doing business in the modern era. Almost more importantly though, is having internal control over who can access which accounts and being able to limit/restrict that access in real-time and at a moment’s notice (from a desktop or a mobile device). From improper password practices to a lack of compliance on the part of your team, security loopholes are everywhere.
By keeping a record of logins and passwords for you, a password manager like LastPass makes it simple to maintain control of your cyber security. You can even have LastPass generate secure passwords for you using the newest best practices, removing the need for you to stay current on new suggestions. Additionally, a desktop version that connects straight to a mobile app simplifies and expedites your employees’ ability to continue working while remaining safe.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post on the importance of password management systems and encourage you to migrate over to a password manager system as soon as possible! It will make your life easier and help you maintain ownership of your business and brand. Have any other questions? Feel free to contact us for more information about our services here.
- Why do you need a strong and unique password?
A strong, unique password can help you protect yourself from various online security threats. Using a business password manager can prevent a security breach and ensure the protection of your sensitive data.
- Which is the best password management tool?
There are several password managers that can help prevent identity theft. Some cloud based password managers can help generate stronger passwords, store these complicated passwords conveniently, and allow for multi-factor authentication. You can share passwords with your team if you are using a password manager app. Some examples of such password managers are LastPass and 1Password.
- Why should you use a strong password?
Using a strong unique password enhances your cybersecurity and protects your online account. It acts as a barrier and deters unauthorized access by hackers.
Your business account likely contains sensitive information, including financial data, customer details, and confidential documents. A strong password helps protect this valuable data from being compromised.
Weak passwords are an open invitation to cybercriminals. Using a strong password makes it much harder for them to gain unauthorized access to your account.