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Passwords : How to avoid being hacked?

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Passwords : How to avoid being hacked?

Passwords remain a crucial component of online security. By adopting robust practices and raising user awareness, the risk of cyberattacks can be significantly reduced. Both businesses and individuals must be vigilant and proactive in protecting their sensitive data.

Importance of secure passwords

Password security is vital in a world where cyberattacks are becoming increasingly frequent. Understanding why weak passwords are problematic is essential to protect your personal and professional information.

Password cyberattacks: Growing threat

Password cyberattacks are increasing at an alarming rate. According to cybersecurity company Sophos, the number of cyberattacks against businesses in South Africa, Kenya, and Zambia rose by 76 % in 2023. Weak and recycled passwords are often the entry point for cybercriminals.

For example, in 2023, « 123456 » was the most common password in Nigeria and the second most used worldwide, according to Nordpass. These passwords can be cracked in less than a minute by hackers, exposing confidential information to risks of theft, deletion, or tampering.

Why are weak passwords a major problem?

Usernames and passwords remain major points of vulnerability. Many people continue to use weak passwords and reuse the same passwords for different accounts. Research shows that predictable choices like « 12345678 », « Admin » and « password » are still too common. Artificial intelligence tools facilitate the hacking of these weak passwords, making data protection more complex.

Economic consequences of cyberattacks

Cyberattacks have significant economic repercussions. Data theft can cost companies millions of dollars, not only in terms of data recovery but also in terms of loss of customer trust and reputation. In 2023, cyberattacks cost companies an average of 4.45 million USD globally.

How to create a secure password

Creating a secure password is essential to protect your personal and professional information. Here are some best practices to strengthen the security of your passwords :

  • Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Create passwords with at least 12 characters.
  • Avoid repetitive character sequences or easily guessable words.

Strategies for businesses

Businesses must adopt effective strategies to protect their employees’ passwords and ensure the security of their systems. Here are some recommendations to achieve this:

Password policies and security standards

Companies must develop and implement robust password policies tailored to their specific needs. Security standards such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) or guidelines from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) can serve as references.

Employee training and awareness

Companies should conduct regular awareness campaigns to promote safe password practices. Employees must understand the risks and know how to create and manage robust passwords. Password strength indicators and the adoption of multi-factor authentication (MFA) are also recommended to enhance security.

Audit and monitoring

Regular audits and continuous monitoring of password policies and practices are necessary to ensure compliance and identify potential vulnerabilities. Encrypting password files and integrating advanced technologies for identity management are also practices to adopt.

Individual password security

Individuals must also take steps to protect their passwords. This includes using strong passwords, participating in cybersecurity training sessions, and logging out after each session, especially on shared computers.

Avoiding common pitfalls

It is recommended not to use common passwords or simple character sequences. Users should check if their passwords are on breached password lists and immediately change any compromised passwords. Avoiding auto-fill passwords on websites and never sharing passwords with others are also important practices.

Using password management tools

Encrypted password management tools help store passwords securely. They allow you to generate strong and unique passwords, simplifying management while ensuring maximum security.

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