Not a week goes by where I see a news story featuring another large corporation that’s had a data breach due to hackers. Many people think that it won’t happen to them – but when it comes to security, it’s important to think about that common analogy; a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Likewise, your system is only as safe as the weakest password. And if 2014’s list of common passwords is anything to go by, that password is probably going to be “123456“. This popular, easy-to-hack password has topped the list two years running, after knocking the equally ludicrous “password” off the top of the list, which took honours in 2012. So given you run a database of customers – which likely includes their home address, billing details, date of birth, etc – it’s very important that you keep this data secure.
Having visited some storage facilities and seeing their pre-software filing system, I can only imagine how their customers would have felt if they knew the company they were storing their goods at was writing credit card numbers on easy-to-find pink sticky-notes, and storing them in an unlocked filing cabinet next to the front door!
So let’s jump right in and take a look at 9 easy ways to secure your computer and – in turn – your customer management software.
1. Have a strong computer password (and change it regularly)
Requiring a password when you start your computer (be it Microsoft Windows or Mac OS) is a good first step to securing your information. This will help protect access to your computer programs and the data retained within for the average user – but, of course, it won’t stop a determined thief from physically removing your computer’s hard drive from the computer case and viewing the data on it from another machine.
After all, everything adds up – and the more roadblocks you place between the thief and your data, the better…
That said, securing your computer with a boot-up password is one of several things you should do to protect your business (the rest of which we’ll cover shortly).
2. Create logins for each of your staff
Many Management Software tools – such as StorMan – allow you to create individual logins for each of your staff. Let’s take a look at why this is important…
- You can restrict access to different parts of your software based on the user’s login.
- It becomes easy to adjust the system when a staff member leaves – just disable their account! No need to tell everyone what the new password is.
- It allows you to identify training & security issues, as events are tagged against a user’s login.
- Individually explain to staff the importance of logging in and keeping their password private, so that they are not blamed for someone else’s crimes. Thieves will inevitably try and put the blame on someone else.
3. Use a unique, complex password
As per my introduction, the most popular password for the last few years (at the time of writing), was “123456”, followed closely by “password“ and then “12345“. Don’t use one of these passwords!
- Use a unique password. In other words, don’t use the same password for two things.
- A complex password should contains upper- and lower-case letters, some numbers and a few symbols.
- Turning a phrase into a password makes it easier to remember. Having a different phrase (related to the site you’re logging into) means it’s unique, yet memorable. For example, if your password is for Facebook, you might convert the phrase “I had 202 friends on Facebook at the end of March!” into “Ih202foFateoM!”.
4. Change passwords regularly
Using a complex password is great, but you’ll also need to change it regularly. Remember – intelligent hackers deploy software robots (known as ‘bots’) that automatically try to login to popular websites (such as Facebook, Twitter, etc) using common passwords.
If these attempts fail, some bots will move on to trying random passwords. Eventually, they WILL guess your password, that’s a given – but the more complex the password, the longer it will take to break… and hopefully, by then, you’ll have changed your password to something else.
Tip: Use a password manager, but be sure to secure it with a very complex password and change it regularly! Most people tend to use the same password for everything because it’s easy to remember – but a password manager will allow you to “remember” really long and complex passwords with ease.
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