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How Do Weak Password Security Systems Attract Hackers?

If you worked in an office building with flimsy entrance locks, do you think that would attract burglars? Given that hackers are their criminal counterparts, it stands to reason that weak passwords would attract digital thieves.

The facts are that failed password security was reportedly a factor in 80 percent of data breaches in 2019. Another study concluded that 91 percent of those polled understood that reusing passwords increased the risk of a breach. But the startling statistic was that 59 percent admitted to doing it anyway.

Employees who fail to follow robust password security practices turn your organization into an easy target. These rank among the top reasons why industry leaders would be well-served to understand real-life password security problems and take proactive measures to harden your defenses.

How Do Weak Password Security Systems Attract Hackers?

What Are Common Password Security Mistakes?

Consider the physical burglar analogy for a moment. A large office building typically has security cameras and other technology to identify intruders. But the facility may also have security personnel to deter thieves. At least one of those security guards probably has a master key to enter any office space in an emergency. That master key is precisely what employee passwords are to your network. Should a hacker match one username and password, they have the keys to all your digital assets.

Every day, people, like security guards, have dozens of digital doors they enter on a routine basis. Most people log on to platforms to manage bank accounts, credit cards, pay bills, live-stream, play videogames, and make electronic purchases, among many other activities. They don’t want to remember dozens of letters, characters, and numbers, so they use a master password.

Along with using pathetically weak passwords such as sports teams and, yes, “password123,” about 52 percent repeat it more than once. Upwards of 13 percent of internet users repeat the same password on every platform. That includes your business network. Given the facts about password security failures, how can business decision-makers fix the problem?

How Can You Harden Your Password Security?

Until recently, conventional wisdom emphasized the importance of password security in the workplace and instruct team members to create strong passwords. Direction typically included things such as mixing in capital letters, symbols, and random numbers. Training also warned people about using easy-to-guess-at words such as a child’s name, consecutive keyboard strokes, and regularly changing passwords. But as CPO Magazine points out, people suffer “password fatigue” and don’t follow through. The dysfunctional relationship everyday people have with their password security invites even low-level digital burglars to use methods such as the following:

  • Brute-Force Hacks: This strategy involves matching a username with a password using automation. Cybercriminals find organizations that allow employees to use their company email as the username, particularly attractive. They start the process with 50 percent of the authentication.
  • Dictionary Schemes: Another automated system, this process involves running commonly used words and phrases until a password works. Strong passwords are usually a powerful enough deterrent to stop dictionary hacks.
  • Phishing Scams: Sophisticated hackers may gain an employee’s confidence by impersonating a supervisor or a trusted colleague. The digital scammer will then ask for a password or piece of information that allows them to enter the network.

These nefarious methods rely on faulty password security and employee missteps. Industry leaders must face the reality that human error is here to stay. Fortunately, there are managed IT solutions that can harden your password security.

Business professionals have overwhelmingly shifted to some form of automation in recent years. Some are utilizing generators that create diverse passwords. This technology can be used to change passwords automatically, so the same one doesn’t grow stale. Two-factor authentication (2FA) has been a reliable password security deterrent in recent years. The process sends an authentication code to a secondary device that the user must enter. This strategy makes it difficult for garden variety hackers because they would need control of that device.

The hot-trending strategy remains multi-factor authentication (MFA). This password security system requires employees to enter a secondary code and approve an alert proving the login is legitimate. The good news is that these automated password security measures are cost-effective and make your organization look far less attractive to hackers.

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