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Monday, 23 May 2022 10:14

Eight reasons why you need a corporate password manager

By Anthony Daniel, ANZ and Pacific Islands regional director at WatchGuard Technologies
WatchGuard Technologies ANZ and Pacific Islands regional director Anthony Daniel WatchGuard Technologies ANZ and Pacific Islands regional director Anthony Daniel

GUEST OPINION: Like them or loathe them, passwords remain an important component of IT security within all businesses. Used to secure everything from email servers and databases to cloud resources and remote networks, they’ve been part of the IT landscape since business computing was first introduced.

While they have been augmented by other identity credentials, such as fingerprints and face scans, passwords are not going away any time soon. The challenge for users, however, is remembering them and keeping them safe from prying eyes.

Growing in number

Another challenge stems from the sheer number of passwords that are required in the modern business world. It’s not uncommon for individuals to need more than a hundred to cover all their activities and access requirements.

Some people opt to allow their web browser to store passwords for later retrieval. However, while this is better than relying on notes stuck to a computer screen, it leaves the door open for cybercriminals equipped with malware such as recently discovered BlackGuard.

The benefits of password managers

A better alternative is to make use of a corporate password manager. These software tools are designed to store all passwords securely and require a single master password for a user to gain access.

There are eight key reasons why an organisation should consider making use of password managers compulsory for all staff. Those reasons are:

1. Reduced password sharing. It might be easy to share over the phone a simple password such as ‘ABC123”, but it becomes more difficult if the password is ‘%$R9O&’. Password managers make it easy to create and store random and complex passwords that are more difficult to share.

2. Less use of corporate passwords for personal applications. In some cases, people use the same password for personal online activity as they do at work. Using a corporate password manager to generate and store a complex password will make such reuse much more challenging.

3. No using the same password for everything. Some users are tempted to use a single password for everything, which can be a significant security challenge for a business. A password manager will train them to create different passwords for all sites and services.

4. Stop credential leaks. Sometimes external services accessed by a business users will be attacked and user passwords stolen and sold on the dark web. To increase security, many sites store a hash of passwords rather than the full passwords themselves. This means a cybercriminal needs to ‘crack’ the password before it can be used. This is relatively simple to do if the password itself is simple but much more complex if the password is a random string of letters, numbers, and symbols. A password manager can generate passwords that meet these criteria.

5. Replace shared admin passwords. Many businesses use shared credentials such as admin passwords that are used by multiple staff. If these are stolen, they can provide cybercriminals with access to an entire IT infrastructure. Corporate password managers can provide the ability to securely share passwords between individuals and store them in a secure vault.

6. Avoid password exposure for MSP accounts. Managed service providers will always have admin credentials used to access their managed accounts and share them between groups of technicians. The leak of those credentials could be a disaster for an MSP, and so the use of a password manager is vital.

7. Add security to applications lacking MFA support. Most serious business applications will support multi-factor authentication (MFA), which creates a trust relationship with an identity provider, however there are still a huge number that don’t. For applications not supporting it, it is wise to make sure the log-in credentials are unique. Using a password manager to achieve this is a sound move.

8. Reduce password carelessness by users. Even when trained, staff can sometimes fall for a scam call or email and reveal passwords to a cybercriminal. Password managers can be an effective way to make users understand the importance of keeping passwords safe while also reducing the chance of passwords being used in dangerous situations.

Password managers have become a valuable and powerful tool for businesses of all types and sizes. By equipping staff with them, the security of both individuals and the wider IT infrastructure can be significantly enhanced.

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