October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month! Throughout the month, we will be sending out some information to cover hot topics in the Cybersecurity World.
Cybersecurity isn’t ‘owned’ by one department only. Though we have a Cybersecurity Team here at the VSC, the digital security of any organization belongs to every employee and student. Cyber attackers don’t target one department or user specifically, so it is the responsibility of everyone to make the most of the tools available to defend against potential threats.
Our first topic is Passwords! Passwords are one of multiple methods of authentication to a website or service. They are your digital keys to the kingdom and should be kept safe and secure. No matter what you’re trying to protect with a password, they should all be created with these three best practices in mind: long, unique, and complex.
Long – Security experts recommend that passwords be at least 16 characters long.
Unique – Each and every account you log into needs to have its own unique password. NEVER REUSE PASSWORDS. If you reuse passwords, and one of these gets compromised, then all of your accounts that use the same password are also compromised. Each password for each service should be wholly unique; not just a few different characters, but an entirely different password.
Complex – Each unique password should be comprised of a combination of capital letters, lower case letters, numbers, and special characters (i.e. >, /, !). A mix of these characters should be included when you’re considering your 16 or more character password. Most services and websites will outline these as ‘guidelines’ when creating your password and tell you which combination at minimum you should be using.
Remembering unique passwords for every service isn’t easy, and we all know that it’s never good practice to write your password on a sticky note on your desk or in a notebook that you carry around with you. The good news is that there are many reliable password managers available. Password managers secure your passwords and usernames for countless services and websites in a vault that’s only accessible by you, via one master password! Rather than remembering every unique password or writing them in plain text that anyone can access, you can remember one password that will let you into your secure vault.
For more information on password managers, check out this article by the National CybersecurityAlliance: https://staysafeonline.org/online-safety-privacy-basics/password-managers/
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to reach out to the cybersecurity team at any time. We’re happy to answer any security-related questions you may have.