Passwords: A Necessary Evil

by Rob O’Connor, NERC Reliability Specialist

Passwords are a necessary part of conducting our business in a secure fashion. But bad habits and shortcuts make it all too easy for bad actors to compromise security protocols. Hackers are trying to crack your credentials and a combination of the strategies noted below will help thwart these attempts.

Length – Many sites require 10-14 characters with a mix of upper case, lower case, numerical and special characters. Remember that the length of the password adds to its complexity.

Complexity – Complex passwords are difficult to crack but also difficult to remember. Try a “Passphrase” to help you remember it.

Passphrases – A passphrase is a string of words, numbers and special characters that make sense to you, are easy to remember and are unique.

Uniqueness – All your accounts should have unique passwords to prevent your credentials from being compromised. Having many passwords is very difficult to keep track of and Password Managers can help.

Password Managers – a Password Manager is software that can create, store and sync your credentials. A robust site will often utilize both your passwords plus Multi Factor Authentication. LastPass is a Password Manager application which is available both for a fee and in a freeware version. The free version has syncing limitations, so the paid version is the better option.

Multi Factor Authentication – provides an additional layer of security as it requires you to enter another code that is sent via email or text at the time of login.

Passwords have long plagued businesses as a weak link in security. Employees will often reuse passwords across multiple systems, or they forget their passwords or write them down, which increases how easily they can be compromised. To quote Joe Weiss, “Passwords are like underwear. Change them regularly, don’t leave them where people can see them, and never, ever, share them.” By using these suggested tips, you can better secure and remember your login credentials.