An increasing number of websites need visitors to log in using their passwords. What most people do not realize, however, is that their bank or social media site logs them in using saved passwords. The trend of automatic sign-ins has even extended into communications between networked devices. It has become an essential feature in the emerging phenomenon of IoT (Internet of Things).
Securing passwords against theft is a significant concern to most people. Businesses, especially, are wary of losing their access credentials to hackers. As a result, password security plays a vital role in cyber-security.
Weak passwords make private information susceptible to cyber theft. They leave sensitive data, such as financial records, at the mercy of cyber-criminals. Unfortunately, for businesses, the loss of confidential data could even spell financial ruin. It is thus wise to have a password policy that encourages users to adopt strong passwords.
One of the ways of improving password security is by using password managers. These are software tools that encrypt passwords and store them in an organized way. They can handle hundreds of login credentials for many users. Corporations hire IT experts specializing in cyber-security because they have password management knowledge.
Pros of a Password Manager
Generating hard-to-crack passwords is not an enjoyable affair – especially when one does it without the aid of specialized software. Furthermore, most people need some reference to assist them to remember passwords. It is, thus, common to find the names of spouses or children acting as part of passwords. The practice extends to pet names, birthdays, and places of interest (such as the town of birth). Not to mention, there is a tendency of people using the same password across several websites. As a result, once you know a person it is easy to guess their login credentials.
People have become used to choosing weak passwords as part of their credentials. They have been doing it since the infancy years of the Internet. It has become a habit since coming up with hard-to-crack passwords seems counter-intuitive. Moreover, overcoming the urge to key-in easy-to-guess passwords would take considerable effort. Cyber-security expert Karen Frenkel provides reasons why most people still use bad passwords in her CIO Insight article “Poor Password Habits can Endanger Business.”
According to Frenkel, most people know that they need to use complex passwords. Nonetheless, since they fear to forget complex passwords, they opt for the easy-to-remember ones. She also says that the many services that people sign up to could be adding on to the “security fatigue.” Unfortunately, hackers are aware of these factors. So, they keep on devising new ways to attack users because they know the areas they neglect.
The solution is to install a password manager on a smartphone or computer. There are several options to choose from, such as KeePass, LastPass, and RoboForm. These apps generate complex passwords and store them in an encrypted format. They also give you a chance to use one master password to access all the stored credentials.
Rob Price explains in his article “How to Use Password Managers to Protect Yourself from Hackers” that password managers are apps that simplify the process of creating many passwords and syncing them across multiple devices. He adds that since people are”bad at passwords” they need an automated way to replace the otherwise involving chore of managing login credentials manually. In short, Price finds that it is no longer tenable for website users to keep on settling for weak passwords when various excellent password managers could take over that task.
Hackers use password crackers to test whether a user has entered predictable character combinations as his or her sign-in credentials. They start with the expected information, such as pet names, spouse names, and addresses. Then they could even check whether the user has settled for simple combinations like 123456789 and password. Because the managers insert unique characters to come up with hard-to-guess character strings, such as 694X<iN’@z – there is a slim possibility of hackers discerning any patterns in the randomly generated passwords.
Even if one could create a system of coming up with elaborate passwords off of one’s head – there would still be a problem of remembering them all. Because it is highly likely that such a user would tire at some point, there is a possibility that he or she would revert to re-using passwords across several websites.
Cons of a Password Manager
The main weakness of password managers is that they are, in essence, software products and are bound to have bugs. Keen hackers could, therefore, study a given manager and isolate one thing that it does not do as designed. If as a result, they manage to get hold of the master password, for instance; then all the passwords in a particular manager’s vault are exposable. However, experts argue that it still better to rely on a ‘buggy’ password manager than to turn to password memorization.
The other aspect is that even when a password manager is in use, especially in public networks, hackers could monitor the data traffic and decipher the passwords.
Maryville University offers a cybersecurity degree, which trains computing experts in mobile security, malware analysis, and ethical hacking techniques. Because businesses consider information security as an essential part of their asset management – well-trained cybersecurity practitioners are in high demand. High-paying positions, such as security analyst and networking consultant are a viable career path for most graduates of Maryville’s cybersecurity degree.