Shared Passwords: The Bane of Network Security

Shared Passwords: The Bane of Network Security

Information security, network security, computer security—you can’t avoid these topics in the news today. Our world is on an unavoidable path toward increasing digitization, which means that thieves and hackers are also an increasing problem for individuals and organizations of all sizes.

Matters of security inevitably fall on the user to resolve. Network security depends on much more than proper defenses like updated antivirus software to achieve. It takes a fundamental shift in the way that users interact with their devices and information.

Security’s Achilles Heel

Until different methods of authenticating our identities become more mainstream, passwords are a necessary evil that we all have to deal with. Some estimates claim that over 100 accounts are registered, on average, to most active email addresses. This means that users also have 100+ unique passwords to remember, right?

The sad fact is that many people today use the same password for most (or all) of their accounts. This puts everything stored on connected devices at a higher risk of being compromised, included corporate or private networks, regardless of the complexity and strength of the password being used.

The simple fact is, everyone will have an account compromised at some point, and this has nothing to do with negligence on their part. Inevitably a social network, cloud service provider, email provider, etc., will experience a breach and expose username and password details. At this point, the perpetrators of the breach will likely go "fishing" (no pun intended) with the compromised credentials, or they will sell the credentials off to someone else. These credentials will be used on credit card sites, online banking sites, and more, all based on the reality that so many of us don’t use unique passwords the way we should.

If the attackers gain other identifying details about the affected users, they can potentially access work networks or portals like Outlook Web Access as well, bypassing every network security measure that the user’s company may have taken to protect its information.

Solving the Problem

It may be painful to consider, but the best solution is using a different username and password combination for every online account we own. This is admittedly difficult; remembering all of those complex passwords (dictionary words and number sequences don’t count!) is virtually impossible without some kind of assistance. Writing your passwords down or keeping them saved in a file on your computer creates a similar vulnerability as using the same password for multiple accounts.

There are some other options, including secure password management tools and multi-factor authentication, to help secure your accounts. Regardless of the option(s) you choose, it’s imperative to change your online habits in order to protect your information and any other data that you may have access to.

If you want help navigating these tricky waters, contact us for help. After all, the march toward increased digitization isn’t ending anytime soon.