Before you start reading this post, take our short password
If you said “yes” to any of these questions (or feel as a
supervisor that your employees would answer “yes”), then you’ve got a security
risk on your hands.
Why? First, simple passwords are easier to crack. Nowadays,
even inexperienced hackers have access to automated password cracking software.
This software can easily crack short, common, and simply constructed passwords
Second, writing down or sharing passwords with co-workers
may give others unauthorized access to data and applications. What if a
disgruntled employee sees your password on your desk? What if someone you think
is a trusted employee uses the password you share with them to gain access to unauthorized
Finally, even saving passwords on your web browser (like you
do at home) is not wise when working for a city. All it takes is an
unauthorized person to sit at your computer or a hacker to gain access to your
device to access sensitive information on applications that you use.
So, what do you and your employees need to do? Implementing
the following best practices will help plug these security gaps.
This is an easy security tip
but you need to make sure employees follow it. If they have trouble remembering
their passwords, then suggest they write them down on a piece of paper and keep
it in their wallet or purse—like how they protect their driver’s license,
credit cards, and money from public view.
Many employees often use passwords on their
desktop computers but it’s easy to forget to set up a password on laptops,
tablets, and smartphones. Mobile devices are perhaps even easier from which to
steal information. A thief or disgruntled employee can steal a smartphone in
seconds and quickly gain unauthorized access to city email and applications.
Protect all devices with passwords.
Instead, use strong passwords such as long
passphrases (like “The brown fox is 2fast!”) or complex passwords consisting of
a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. Strong passwords go a long
way toward preventing hackers from getting into city applications. And if your
password is one of the top 25 worst passwords below (according to Splashdata),
change it NOW!
You may do this at home so that you can easily stay logged
into your favorite websites and applications. However, you don’t want to do
this at your city. If someone gets access to your device, then they can gain
access to unauthorized information without even needing to crack a password.
Enforce a policy at your city that employees cannot save passwords on even
their most frequently used applications.
Yes, this annoys employees but it helps with security. The
longer a password is in use, the more likely that hackers will be able to crack
it. The more you change passwords, the more difficult you make a hacker’s job.
We know—another annoyance! But
think about it. Let’s say an employee uses the same password for five different
software applications that give access to confidential information at your
city. If a hacker or disgruntled employee gets one password, then they have
access to all five applications. Mitigate the chance of a data breach by
requiring different passwords for each application.
Cybersecurity continues to evolve. In the future, passwords
may go away and get replaced by different forms of authentication. But in the
meantime, passwords are here to stay and they often represent a gaping security
hole for hackers. By following the best practices outlined above, you will make
your city’s cybersecurity much stronger.
Questions about the state of your city’s cybersecurity? Reach out to us today.
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