Since email and instant message systems became a prevalent tool in workplace communications, companies have had to deal with issues of security that were not previously relevant. In bygone days, most businesses only needed to hire a security guard or two and maybe install some file cabinet locks to ensure the safety of their documents and building. Email and the internet has changed all that, and extra security measures need to be taken to prevent the accidental download of viruses, spyware, and adware, as well as to protect company documents, employee and customer information, or other sensitive files from being accessed or exploited.
So what can be done?
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Most companies naturally take the standard precautions and install network firewalls, antivirus and anti spyware software, and threat scanners on company computers. Basic security software has become standard. However, the proverbial open door into a company’s network may still exist in a form that many people rarely give a second thought: passwords.
Microsoft experts claim that a good password can mean the difference between a safe computer and a compromised one. Easy-to-guess passwords or passwords that are not changed regularly are open invitations to hackers. Passwords, which are intended to block unauthorized users from accessing computer, account, or network, can give a hacker the ability to do on your computer everything you would do yourself.
Some actions you can take to make sure your passwords remain known only to you include:
Never write down your password or tell it to another person.
Don’t make it too obvious – if you name is Jim and you like the Red Sox, for example, the password “RedSoxJim” might as well be tattooed on your forehead.
Don’t make it so obscure or random that you won’t remember it.
When creating a password, use a combination of letters and numbers or alternate upper- and lowercase letters.
The longer the password is, the harder it will be to crack – always make sure the password is at least five or six characters long.
Change your password often.
There are three common methods used by hackers to crack passwords and enter a network:
Brute force – This techniques involves using a program that tries every character combination to form a password. Time-consuming methods such as this are one reason long passwords are more hacker-proof – trying every combination possible of a multi-character password can take years.