What is the Best Way to Change Your Passwords?

You change your clothes. You change your oil. Make sure you also change your passwords.

An alert pops up on your computer: It is time to change your password again. Sigh. Fine. You will just change from password4! to password5! and―

Not so fast.

Regular password changes are meant to make sure that even if someone gets your login credentials, they will not be able to use them forever. But if you just make a tiny change or add a digit to a sequence, it is easy for a hacker with the old password to crack the new one using a “brute force” attack.

So what’s the best way to keep your passwords strong? Here are some tips:

1. Establish a company “password refresh” policy.

No matter how big or small your business is, make sure you have a policy for setting and refreshing passwords. For example, do not allow people to use basic dictionary words. Do not allow identical strings of characters from previous passwords. Educate your team about good “password hygiene” and how weak changes or reusing passwords can put both your organization and your users’ personal accounts at risk.

2. Change your passwords regularly.

How often you should change your passwords depends on how critical a system is. Passwords for accounts with administrative privileges (ones that let users make system or account changes) should be updated more often than others because unauthorized access to admin accounts can be so much more devastating. Passwords for less critical systems can go a little longer, but should still be changed every 180 days.
 
Be aware: those timeframes apply if you have a password management system that automatically generates strong passwords. If you are relying on users to choose their own passwords, you should require more frequent changes.
 
That said, a password management system is a great idea. It will let you set expiry dates for passwords so users are prompted to change them before they can re-access a system.
 
Even with auto-expiries, tell your users they do not have to―and in some cases, shouldn’t―wait for the scheduled expiry date to change their passwords. The fresher, the better!

3. Change passwords immediately if they are shared or breached.

While the rule should be “don’t share passwords”, if you absolutely have to share one, change it as soon as the other user is done. Even if they are well-meaning, they could have noted it somewhere visible or stored it in an unsecured location, leaving it vulnerable to malicious players. And of course, in cases of a known or suspected breach, change any affected passwords right away.
 
By following those three principles―set a policy, change passwords regularly, and change any password that is shared, or breached―you’ll go a long way toward keeping your information safe.

Refresh Your Passwords the Right Way! Get Cyber Security Services from Twin State Technical Services

If you would like to learn more about how to manage your passwords, let us know. Get help from our team of experts of cyber security solutions and sleep easier at night. Next time, we will explain how to make sure you know who has access to your systems, and why it matters.

Contact us today for a consultation. Call 563-441-1504 or contact us online.

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