Every year, a list is released showing the most popular passwords for the previous year. Just like last year and the year before that “123456” tops the list for the most commonly used password. Followed closely by the ultra-creative password of “password.” Of course there are some new arrivals to the list. Computer users have decided that “princess”, “solo”, and “starwars” are solid additions to the list of easy to remember, go-to passwords.
I get it. Secure passwords are a pain. They are difficult to remember, seemingly impossible to type accurately on the first try, and in general, they seem like more of a pain than they are worth. But they are so important to securing every aspect of your digital life. From personal to business, one insecure, easy to break password could lead to a compromise of your personal information, or theft from your pharmacy.
So let’s take a minute to review some good password practices.
- If any of your passwords are among those listed in the 25 most popular passwords of 2015, change them immediately. If someone is trying to access a password protected system or program, you can bet those common passwords will be among the first they try.
- Don’t compose your passwords with personal information, like your kid’s birthday’s, a pets name, your anniversary or your favorite movie. If you’ve posed pictures of your kid’s birthday party or you’ve been obsessing about the new Star Wars movie on Facebook, your password is basically written in clear text for a hacker to see.
- Use strong, secure passwords. This means a minimum of 8 characters in length with a combination of upper/lower case letters and numbers/symbols. You can use a website like passwordmeter.com to test the strength of your passwords.
- Try pass phrases. Type out an entire sentence and use it as a password. Some programs will allow spaces and some won’t, but a pass phrase is much more secure than a 6 letter password and monumentally more difficult to hack.
- Don’t use the same password twice. One password being compromised by a hacker is bad enough, but if you utilize the same password for multiple applications, you become much more vulnerable.
- Never write down your passwords. With so many different applications requiring passwords, this may be the hardest rule to follow, but there are ways to make this easier. You can use an application such as keepersecurity.com to manage and store your passwords. With desktop and mobile application access, you can safely store your passwords.
- Change passwords often. The longer you use a password, the more likely it is that someone can compromise or guess that password. Additionally, passwords can be stolen without your knowledge and then not used immediately. Changing your passwords regularly prevents this vulnerability.
- Use biometric fingerprint readers for login. It’s hard enough to keep yourself on track with password creation and update policies. Trying to keep your pharmacy employees on track? Virtually impossible. Add to that the delay an employee can cause at your registers while trying to remember and type in a secure password and it’s almost a guarantee that one of your employees is using “123456” to access your Pharmacy POS application. Biometric login means that your employee only has to type in their identify code and then place their finger on the scanner to log in. It’s efficient and secure.
While these practices may seem rudimentary to some of you, it’s worth taking a few minutes to review password policies in your pharmacy on at least an annual basis. A few minutes now could save your pharmacy from future headaches if your passwords, or your employee’s passwords are stolen or hacked.