In a world where data breaches seem to happen every day, network security has become a top priority for both individuals and businesses. While there are various measures and technologies to adopt to protect your network, the first and most important line of defense is your passwords. While passwords are incredibly important, many people resort to using weak, easy-to-guess passwords and worse, reuse them on multiple websites.
This article will try to explain and explore why password management is so important for network security. We’ll provide some information on how to create and manage strong passwords, show common mistakes, and discuss the role of password management tools. If you want to use more effective and secure passwords, keep reading the article and be equipped with everything you need to protect your network.
What is password management?
Passwords are a big part of digital security, but managing passwords can be a very exhausting task, especially when you have a dozen of them. This is why we need password management. Password management refers to the practices and tools used to create, store, and use passwords securely. It helps you reduce the risk of data breaches by helping you create unique and complex passwords.
One of the most important aspects of password management is creating strong passwords. A strong password should be a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. More specifically, it should be at least 12 characters long, have both uppercase and lowercase letters, and should not have any personal information. It is also important not to use the same password for multiple accounts to make sure that even if one of them is compromised, the rest of them are safe.
By adopting password management best practices and using password management tools (we’ll explain them in detail), you can significantly reduce the risk of a cyber-attack and protect your sensitive data.
The Role of Password Management in Secure Network Access
In this part, we’ll explain the importance of passwords in secure network access, and talk a bit about network gateways. A Network Gateway by definition is a device that connects two or more networks together. They play a critical role in network security as they provide a controlled, secured entry to the network. To ensure the security of your network gateway, the first thing to do is implement strong password management practices.
The best way to ensure secure network access is to have unique, preferably long passwords and change them frequently. If users change their passwords every few months, the risk of a compromised password will be reduced. Strong passwords can be easily created via password managers as they help you store complex passwords securely and suggest hard-to-guess ones.
But if you want to take it one step further, you can also use multi-factor authentication as an additional layer of security. MFA requires users to provide two or more forms of authentication; for example, a password and a biometric factor together.
Overall, password management is crucial for securing a network gateway and providing secure access to resources. By adopting these best practices, you can protect your network and safeguard sensitive data.
Password Management Tools
Password management tools are software that allows an easy and secure way of managing passwords. They store complex passwords in an encrypted database and generate complex, strong passwords for the users. These tools also autofill in applications and websites, eliminating the need of remembering them all.
They come in various forms, desktop applications, mobile apps, and website services. Most of these tools have additional features such as multi-factor authentication, secure password sharing, and password generation.
One of the best advantages of a password management tool is that they make it easy to use strong passwords. A person not using these tools will likely opt for easy-to-guess and remember passwords that put networks in danger. However, password managers allow people to remember only the master password, and autofill the rest.
It is also good to mention that password management tools are a way of preventing phishing attacks. They help protect against these attacks by filling your passwords in legitimate and verified websites and not on phishing sites.
Common password management mistakes
Lastly, let’s talk about some common password management mistakes so you can avoid them and reinforce the security of your network. Here are some of them;
Using weak passwords
Weak passwords are easy to crack or guess, and this makes them a significant security risk. These usually include using dictionary words, simple patterns like consecutive numbers, and personal information such as birthdays or pet names as passwords.
Using the same passwords for multiple applications
Using the same password over and over put sensitive data at risk. Hackers can compromise this password on one of these applications and try to use them on the others, which creates a domino effect. Although it is convenient, it is important not to use the same password to secure your accounts.
Storing passwords in unsecured locations
Passwords should never be stored in plain text in spreadsheets, or written on a piece of paper. If these unencrypted files or physical pieces of paper fall into the wrong hands, your passwords can be compromised easily. For this reason, they should only be stored in password managers.
Sharing passwords with others
Passwords are considered sensitive information, and they should never be shared with others, even if they are trusted colleagues. Once a password is shared, you can’t really control who has access to it, creating a big security risk for the whole organization. Every password should be known only by the account owners.
Not changing passwords regularly
If you use a single password for an extended period of time, you will be increasing the chances of it getting compromised. That’s why some applications enforce users to change their passwords every few months. Even if this is not enforced by the application, changing passwords frequently should be included in company policies and internalized by users as a regular practice.