Passwords are the gatekeepers to your most important personal and professional information. One of the easiest ways to arm your organization against data theft and other cyber attacks is to make sure you have a culture of strong passwords. In recognition of Data Protection Day, here are three ways in which you can protect your business against opportunistic hackers.

1.Educate your workforce about the dangers of weak passwords, both professionally and personally.

As our world becomes more connected, passwords are now commonplace in our professional and personal lives. It's likely that each of your employees is responsible for one or more passwords as part of their day-to-day work duties.

While you may control your most sensitive data within your organization and protect it with strong passwords, it is important to realize that each employee and all of their devices are doors into your network. A weak password is like leaving a door unlocked on your entire network. Educate your workforce by first having a policy for strong passwords and communicating it through a variety of ways (e.g., email reminders, company meetings, posters, etc.).

2.Use passphrases instead of passwords.

Creating a culture of strong, resilient passwords is a simple and effective way to improve your cyber readiness. The best password is a passphrase with 64 characters or more. Passphrases can be easier for people to remember because they can be a sentence and don’t have special characters or numbers. Plus, they don't have to be changed frequently; they only need to be changed after a breach has occurred. Also, people can save the passphrase in their keychain so they don't need to type it in every time.

3.If an application or piece of software has two-factor authentication, make sure your employees are using it.

Two-factor authentication is an additional layer of security that provides protection in the event that a hacker guesses or cracks your password. Two-factor authentication requires a second verification step, such as the answer to a secret question or a personal identification number (PIN). You should encourage your employees to opt for two-factor authentication when given an option.

Get insights into best practices for passwords, plus a sample policy, email, poster and other communications – sign-up for the Cyber Readiness Program (it’s free!). Sign-up here.