NCSAM Week 1: Every-Day Cybersecurity Starts with Passwords

For the first week of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we're focusing on password best practices as an every-day step toward cybersecurity.

A digital life cannot be lived without the use of logins and passwords.
An informal, unscientific survey around our office turned up an average five requests for a unique password per day. And that’s just at work. From personal banking to ordering a pizza online, almost every online interaction requires the use of a password.
It makes sense, then, for news of massive data breaches (Yahoo comes to mind) releasing millions of passwords at a time to send shivers down all our spines. What makes less sense: the general public’s consistent lack of awareness when it comes to password best practices.
Though statistics like “63% of confirmed data breaches involved the use of weak, default, or stolen passwords” regularly bear this out, a new report from password management solution LastPass sheds a new shade of light on this issue.

The Psychology of Passwords

LastPass surveyed 2,000 adults from around the world and asked questions centering on the psychology of passwords. That is, what they thought about their own password practices and how their own personalities came into play.
The standout survey result for us was that while 91% of them know there is a risk for reusing passwords, 61% do so anyway. Other notable stats include:

  • Only 29% of people change their password for security reasons—the most popular reason given for a password change was forgetting the old one
  • 47% of respondents use their own initials, or names of friends and family as part of their passwords (often considered a no-no)

Clearly, there’s still work to be done to cement password best practices into the minds of the general public. The authors of the LastPass report sum it up nicely:

“As with any other issue, there needs to be an understanding of how to change their behavior. In today’s environment, just as it’s important to pay attention to our physical health, we need to maintain a healthy online lifestyle.”

Keeping Cybersecurity Aware

If only there were some month dedicated to cybersecurity awareness… Wait, there is!
Though we strongly suspect you’ve heard by now, October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). Each week is dedicated to a specific theme, with the first week being “Every Day Steps Towards Online Safety.” We at MediaPro thought this was the perfect opportunity to spread a bit of awareness about password best practices.
For example, here are some password tips from Stop. Think. Connect., the minds behind NCSAM, that should prove useful in both your professional and personal lives:

Make Your Password a Sentence

A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love country music”). Many sites even allow you to use spaces.

Unique Account, Unique Password

Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passwords.

Write It Down and Keep It Safe

Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer. You can alternatively use a password manager tool to keep track of your passwords.

Get Two Steps Ahead

Activate two-step authentication – also known as two-step verification or multi-factor authentication – on accounts where available. Two-factor authentication can use anything from a text message to your phone to a token to a biometric, like your fingerprint, to provide enhanced account security.

Free NCSAM Password Awareness Toolkit

Want more resources for keeping password best practices top of your employees minds? Download our one-of-a-kind Password Best Practices and Prioritizing Awareness Toolkit. It contains:

  • MediaPro’s Password Protection animation (preview)
  • Three STC posters on password best practices
  • STC’s Tips for Passwords & Securing Your Accounts tip sheet
  • Our Why Prioritize Employee Awareness? and Making the Business Case for a Robust Awareness Program videos, which outlines best practices for prioritizing employee awareness and talking points for making the business case for a robust awareness program. (preview)

Want to get the absolute best NCSAM toolkits delivered to your inbox each week in October? Sign up today!

MediaPro is proud to work with Stop. Think. Connect as an NCSAM Champion. 
MediaPro is proud to be a NCSAM ChampionCoordinated and led by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NCSAM has grown exponentially since its inception, reaching consumers, small- and medium-sized businesses, corporations, educational institutions and young people across the nation and internationally.
NCSAM 2015 was an unprecedented success, generating more than 1,700 news stories –an increase of 74 percent from NCSAM 2014’s media coverage. Kicking off NCSAM’s 13th year, this October presents a new opportunity to expand cybersecurity and privacy education and awareness globally.

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