The importance of data security cannot be overestimated. There have been a number of high profile cases in the recent past – in the UK and elsewhere – where data breaches have occurred that have done huge reputational damage to the businesses concerned.
So as far as your clients', suppliers' and other stakeholders' data is concerned, you simply cannot allow unauthorised access to it. If you do, then you could easily fall foul of the UK's data protection laws as well as General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which came into force in 2018. What may be even more significant than the fines you might face as a result of a data breach, however, is the fact that you will have shown your organisation as one which cannot be trusted with data.
Data breaches lead to such severe outcomes for businesses that they sometimes don't recover from them. If your breach gets into personal details, such as names and addresses, then this can be bad enough. When it starts to get into areas like payment details – bank account reference numbers and credit card data – then you should not be surprised to find out that your customers begin to leave you for competitors in droves.
Thankfully, there are plenty of security measures you can put in place to thwart data harvesters and hackers. Among the most crucial is the matter of passwords.
Why Are Passwords Important?
Without a password, anyone can gain control of a computer on your network and then start harvesting data from your servers. Of course, hackers use some sophisticated methods to gain access to computers without password protection which might include using web portals or taking over a terminal remotely, supposedly to fix an issue, for example.
Without a password, access is far too easy so every user on your system needs one. What's more, they need a complex one and they need one that is updated regularly. Simple passwords can be guessed by hackers and sometimes they even install malicious software on computers so that passwords can be guessed through trial and error.
How Do You Improve Password Security?
To protect your data, a hard password to guess is invaluable. This means that even with the help of malware, your computer will be safe to use on a network which has access to securely held data without causing a potential breach.
Firstly, passwords should be at least 12 characters long but even lengthier ones are better if you want to remain fully secure. If you make it mandatory for users to set a password with a non- alphanumeric character or two, such as %, £ or *, then this will also augment the level of password protection you have. Some upper and some lower case letters are beneficial, too, as are at least a couple of numerical digits.
With a strong password now set, your data is instantly more secure but it should not end there. Users ought to be forced to alter their password if they enter it incorrectly a few times. This helps to prevent algorithms from breaking them. In addition, passwords should be updated every month or so to ensure they remain fresh and ever-changing. Never use the same password twice, either!
Data Security Support
At Absolute IT we offer a range of secure IT asset disposal services that ensure your sensitive data never falls into the wrong hands. Speak with one of our team for more information about data security practices in the workplace; call 01332 371 989, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org