Remote work makes weak passwords even weaker

Register now

COVID-19 has created many new business challenges for companies working from home. Amid endless Zoom meetings and Slack messages, employers are grappling with important issues like maintaining employee productivity and keeping company culture alive.

But there’s something else that should be top of mind for every employer during this period of remote work: ensuring employees are engaging in smart cybersecurity behaviors. A recent Pindrop survey found that more than two-thirds of home workers use identical passwords across all or most of their online accounts. That's an unsafe behavior that could have dire consequences for companies, especially given the recent rise in fraudulent activity and hacking.

As we continue to adjust to our new remote working environments, and as hackers continue to step up their tactics, employers should consider setting password guidelines for employees to protect their online accounts. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Ensure employees are creating unique passwords for all of their online accounts. This can be tedious, but is key to ensuring accounts are kept secure. By failing to take this step, you’re increasing the amount of information at risk and all but guaranteeing that if one of your accounts is hacked,all of them will be hacked. Setting passwords with a unique combination of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters will make a huge difference in protecting both personal and professional accounts.

Gone are the days of using birthdays or the name of a favorite pet for passwords. This information is easily accessible on social media accounts, and therefore, to hackers. Advise employees to avoid using personal information in their passwords, and instead opt for something that is unique, complex and not easily identifiable.

While it’s important to set unique, complex passwords, it can also be confusing to keep track of all of them. Instead of storing passwords directly on a computer — a security faux pas that over 60% of remote employees are guilty of, according to recent Pindrop research — urge employees to opt for a password management tool like Lastpass or 1Password. Alternatively, employees can go the old-fashioned route and write their passwords down on a piece of paper, provided they store it in a safe place.

While the pandemic will be over eventually, the consequences of poor cybersecurity practices will be here to stay. Security starts with your employees, so it is important to make sure they are taking simple steps like these to guard their accounts and your company.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Authentication Cyber security