Cybersecurity & Password Management
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Now I don’t know about you, but I find some of these “day of” and “month of” topics to be a tad over the top. Think: National Caps Lock Day (which is October 22nd, in the event you’re keen on celebrating it). But, getting back to cybersecurity, this is a topic I feel warrants special designation. And it certainly warrants our attention. As consumers, we generally rely on the cybersecurity measures of the companies we do business with for our protection, but there is one piece of the security puzzle that lies directly within our realm of control: our passwords. Password management is critical to personal cybersecurity. So let’s dive into the nuts and bolts of prudent password management.
Why Password Management Matters
First, some bad news. The bad guys are gaining ground. In 2021, there was a 50% increase in attempted cyberattacks per week on global businesses. Password management is critical here because credential compromise is the most common route to company network breaches. Here’s a direct side effect of the two aforementioned statistics: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, security analysts positions are projected to grow an incredible 35% from 2021 to 2031. While that’s good news for those considering cybersecurity career path, it further underscores the importance of engaging in prudent password management. We all must do our part to support these security analysts.
Easy for You Could Mean Easy for Them
Maybe you’ve been using the same password across all platforms to keep it simple. Perhaps you’ve plugged in “password” or “123456” or something similar to get into your accounts quickly and effortlessly. This may be helping you easily access what you need, but it’s also made you a sitting duck. When it comes to passwords, redundancy and predictability equals vulnerability. Considering the potential for catastrophic identity theft and serious financial exposure, it’s safe to say that nothing stands to hijack our productivity more than a data breach.
Smart & Simple Password Technology Comes to the Rescue
Reading this, perhaps you’ve started to get anxious and/or agitated considering the monumental task of changing, and then remembering, a slew of new and unique passwords. Thankfully, smart technology has been working hard to keep up with the bad guys. You may be familiar with, and maybe you already use, a web browser password manager to autofill your password credentials. That’s a step in the right direction, but experts say browser password managers are not the safest option, primarily because most lack a master password encryption mechanism, and browser password management places the security of all of your accounts in one single potential point of failure.
The good news is, we have better solutions. There are readily available software programs that will autogenerate and securely store random passwords for you. Many have free versions that do the job just fine. And for a small fee, you can do even more, including facilitate secure collaborative work and grant limited and/or one-time access to sensitive data. What’s more, unlike web browser password management, password management software programs store your information in a format that is relatively portable. So if you decide to change up which program you use, it is relatively easy.
LastPass Password Management
There are several reputable password management platforms to choose from, including Dashlane, 1Password and KeePass, but Sara and I both recommend LastPass for our clients. LastPass is easy to use and includes some really smart features. Here are the highlights:
- You download LastPass directly from the internet. It’s a simple browser extension.
- The free version is great for individuals.
- If you plan to share passwords with many people, or want to use LastPass on several devices or browsers, the premium plan ($3 per month) is likely a better fit.
- You create one master password for LastPass. They offer guidance on choosing this one unique password, the last one you’ll ever need to come up with.
- LastPass creates, remembers and fills in the password for all the sites you want (which should be all) to fall under LastPass.
- You fill your secure LastPass vault with all your sites. The module makes it easy.
- You’ll be prompted to make the addition each time you go to a new site requiring credentials, so you can do this through your daily activities.
- Or, you can fill the vault more purposefully through one of the intuitive LastPass site addition tools you’ll be presented with upon sign up.
- Once you download the LastPass mobile device, all LastPass information is synced; you get the easy access and the security on all your mobile devices.
Importantly, LastPass’ cybersecurity technology keeps your data safe. Their approach includes AES-256 bit encryption with PBKDF2 SHA-256 and salted hashes to ensure complete security in the cloud. LastPass produces locally-generated, unique encryption keys. And they use multi-factor authentication to access the LastPass vault.
More Than Password Management
Beyond password management, LastPass is perfect for storing highly sensitive documents, like passports and social security cards. It also has a secure auto-fill feature for credit card numbers, addresses and other commonly required sensitive information. Additionally, utilizing the smart password sharing option, you can grant others access to an account without giving out a single password.
Are You Doing Enough to Protect Your Personal Information?
Are you doing all you can to keep your information safe? There’s smart and easy-to-use technology available to assist with password security. Our favorite is LastPass, but we’ve shared others above we also fully endorse. According to the calendar, now is the perfect time to assess the personal role you play in cybersecurity, so why not add this important task to your to-do list? Let’s not make it easy for the bad guys to violate our sensitive data.
Sara Genrich & Nancy Kruschke, founders of Productivity Training Academy, came together with the vision of creating practical, results-driven online on-demand courses for time management, productivity and technology training. With over 50 years of combined productivity experience, Sara and Nancy’s knowledge, skills and talents illuminate valuable paths to business gain, serving as an effective catalyst for positive change.