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What You Need to Know About Password Automation
Every workforce in the modern age involves a hefty digital component. It would be impossible for a company to remain competitive without the right technology. Unfortunately, while a digital landscape definitely means a lot of benefits, it can also bring all kinds of problems too. All you have to do is look to passwords for proof. Though passwords are meant to keep outsiders at bay, they can also provide them the keys they need to walk right in through the front door. This is why password automation is so important in today’s modern business.
Threats from Modern Hackers
No matter what the password is used for, you can bet any hacker out there would be happy to have it. Modern hacking has become so sophisticated that just about every piece of information represents a real opportunity these criminals would be interested in.
Obviously, the big one you need to worry about is any passwords that would open up access to customer information. This is how money gets stolen from the people trusting you to treat their personal information with the utmost care. They can pull all kinds of other scams with customer data as well.
Hackers may be interested in taking over emails or social media accounts owned by your company. They might not be able to turn a profit from them, but it will give them ample opportunity to embarrass you by causing a PR scandal.
Of course, your business has all kinds of other information that will make a hacker see dollar signs. Some of them may be working for a competitor, for example. Others may know that they can actually blackmail business owners by stealing valuable information.
Sufficed to say, you need to be careful about the passwords that are meant to keep your company safe. There is a veritable army of hackers out there who are always looking for an opportunity to take them.
Why Most Passwords Aren’t Safe
It’s not that your company doesn’t know that they have to have passwords for things like email accounts and workstation access. Everyone knows that. The problem is that, like most businesses, you probably don’t appreciate how weak most passwords are.
Let’s just look at one example of how hackers can break through your system to give you a better idea. The hacking method is called brute force. It gets this name because there really isn’t anything too sophisticated about it. A hacker simply uses software that throws one password after the next at your system until the correct one is found. Then they’re in. It’s rudimentary, but it works all the time.
You’re probably familiar with social engineering too. This is a bit more sophisticated, though it usually doesn’t involve any technical ability. Instead, the hacker tricks unsuspecting employees into handing over valuable data or clicking on links that release malware. With just one critical piece of data extracted, they can usually be on their way.
Password Management Systems
One way a lot of companies have dealt with this problem is by implementing a password management system. The idea is that most employees have a handful of passwords they need to use every day. Many have even more. This allows employees to store all their passwords in one secure location. Without a management system, one of two things could happen.
First, an employee may decide to use the same password for every system. If a hacker gets one of them, then, they’ll have access to every system they want. Even if the password is extremely complex, duplicating it is never a good idea.
Second, an employee may just change one character in the password. This is almost as bad as duplicating it. Hackers won’t have much trouble figuring out what the employee did, after all, and then, once again, they have the keys to everything they want.
Theoretically, this should make things easier. Employees can elect to create complex passwords that will be tough to crack and make as many as they need because they don’t have to commit them to memory. Better still, they could simply generate a random string.
Many password management systems will implement automatic resets as well. This is another important step for security’s sake because it means that if a hacker does crack a password, they will only have it for so long before it’s reset.
Shortcomings of a Password Management System
Unfortunately, password management systems are far from perfect. They can’t do a number of things that are necessary for sufficient protection. They should, of course, but given a company of hundreds of even thousands, you can bet that at least one employee is going to drop the ball. That’s all a hacker needs.
They also can’t automatically force an employee to make different passwords for every system. Once again, this is just asking for trouble.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg though. Even those employees trying to do their best can fall short in a big way. Password complexity, for example, is a foreign concept to most.
Any repeating characters or those placed in a predictable sequence will make for easy cracking, even if an employee makes the password a long one. Many think it’s a better idea to pick an entire sentence like, “Ilovemycat.” Yet, even that’s simply too predictable to be a problem for modern hackers.
Just about every word you can find in the dictionary is also going to make life easy for a hacker, even if you replace a letter with a number or symbol.
Central Management for MSPs
Instead, your company should be investing in a digital environment for your employee’s passwords. However, this one will be overseen by the MSP (Managed Service Provider).
This will give you all the benefits of being able to store passwords somewhere safe. However, it also guarantees a certain level of complexity too with a minimum level of password complexity required and regular audits for any manual overrides necessary to this requirement.
Being able to essentially automate the proficiency of your company’s passwords needs to be a priority in this day and age. By having an MSP monitor your password management system, you’ll be well on your way.