Create Strong Passwords using Length not Complexity
Way back in 2003, NIST published some bad advice on passwords. It was so bad in fact that in 2017, they rescinded their earlier advice and updated their password recommendations. Gone were the complex, 8-character passwords that must change every 90 days. In were longer (14+) character length passwords, that were non-complex, and non-expiring.
The theory, this time backed up by empirical evidence, was that by favoring humans with something memorable, they would not write it down AND they would still have a password to strong to brute force with a computer or human guessing at it. If you’re accessing a website today and it insists on a complex password that is only 8 characters long and expires frequently, you’re dealing with a dinosaur of cybersecurity company. Skip the website and find one that reflects current best practices over 20 year old tom-foolery.
In addition to adopting long and strong passwords, every company out there (SMB and MSP) should adopt the following best practices.
CyberHoot Best practices:
- Train your employees on the common attacks that are out there. From weak passwords and password managers, to the importance of multi-factor authentication and how to spot phishing attacks. Awareness is the key to defending your business.
- Govern you employees with cybersecurity policies including Acceptable Use, Password, Information Handling and a Written Information Security Policy.
- Establish cybersecurity best practice processes such as a Vulnerability Alert Management Process (VAMP) and a Cybersecurity Incident Management Process (CIMP) to guide and require action in the face of an emergency. Then move on onboarding and offboarding processes, SaaS management processes, and 3rd party risk management.
- Establish strong technical protections including: a Firewall, antivirus, anti-malware, anti-spam, multi-factor authentication on all critical accounts, Enable full disk encryption, manage the keys carefully, and most importantly, adopt, train on and require all employees to use a Password Manager.
- Test employees on how to spot and avoid phishing attacks. CyberHoot has released a disruptive method of Phish Testing the fills in gaps in your employees knowledge without punishing them for failure. Instead we reward them for success. More info is available here.
- Backup your data by following our 3-2-1 Backup methodology to ensure you can recover your business from a cybersecurity event.
- In the modern Work-from-Home era, make sure you’re managing personal devices connecting to your network by validating their security (patching, antivirus, DNS protections) or prohibiting their use entirely.
- If you haven’t had a risk assessment by a 3rd party in the last 2 years, you should have one now. Establishing a risk management framework in your organization is critical to addressing your most egregious risks with your finite time and money.
- Buy Cyber-Insurance to protect you in a catastrophic failure situation. Cyber-Insurance is no different than Car, Fire, Flood, or Life insurance. It’s there when you need it most.
CyberHoot believes that for many small to medium sized businesses and MSPs, you can greatly improve your defenses and chances of not becoming another victim of cyberattack if you follow the advice above.