Did you know that an estimated 83 percent of people in the United States use passwords that others can easily guess? These weak passwords can range from a person’s name to even the simple word “password.”
Even worse, company policies often do not help with the issue. After all, they might just require employees to use eight characters. Even complex passwords with symbols and numbers can be cracked and allow for data breaches.
What can a small business do to improve its security? Well, a great tip for IT support for small business is to use passphrases instead of passwords.
Read on to learn about passphrases and reasons your small business should use them over passwords.
Understanding a Password vs Passphrase
When comparing a password vs passphrase, you will find they have the same purpose. They both secure access to a system or application so that only an authorized person can get in.
However, the major difference between them comes down to the length. Often, you will only need at least eight characters when you create a password. On the other hand, this requirement grows to around 16 characters when you make a passphrase.
Another key difference is the content itself. A password might just have one word with some numbers and special characters mixed in. A passphrase, though, will have multiple words that form a phrase or sentence the user will remember.
Why Your Small Business Should Use Passphrases
Most of the reasons your small business should choose to use passphrases come down to usability and security. Here are five benefits your small business will reap from using passphrases over passwords.
1. Users Will Forget Them Less Often
Simplicity is one of the biggest weaknesses of using passwords since a hacker can easily use tools to crack it with brute force. They might even break in simply with a few tries if the password’s something like “password” or the user’s name.
After all, users might feel concerned they will not remember a long password with a mix of upper- and lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers. Sure, password managers can help with remembering. Many users just take the risk and use something short and simple.
Passphrases do a lot to reduce the problem of forgetfulness. Rather than needing to make a short password complex, users can string together some words and numbers that form a meaningful phrase. Users can choose something like “ilike2go2thecafedaily” instead of something cryptic like “D&jK13^&” would be.
Using passphrases will reduce frustration for users since they will need to spend less time calling for help to reset their passwords. It also will reduce the productivity issues that wasted time changing passwords can cause your business.
2. Passphrases Are Easier to Make Complex
Short passwords are harder to make complex. Systems might even have rules banning words, and this can leave users scratching their heads on how to make a complex yet memorable password. This process can especially become a problem when a system requires changing a password every few weeks or months.
Passphrases avoid these problems since they allow for words. No longer will users have to string together some meaningless characters to try to meet the password rules. They can instead just form a sentence and add some numbers to replace words for more security.
It also helps that passphrase requirements tend to be less strict when creating accounts. For example, a system might have an exhaustive list of requirements to make a password. It might just require 16 characters and at least one number or uppercase letter for a passphrase.
3. Attackers Will Find It Nearly Impossible to Crack Passphrases
Passwords are notoriously easy to crack when you use the most common options. Hackers can use password dictionary lists to try to break in by trying the most common passwords.
If someone used their favorite animal the “elephant” as their password, it would only take 0.20 milliseconds to crack in 2019! A more complex password may take days or months to crack, but no password is completely safe. Just knowing some simple information about the user can make a password cracker’s job easier.
On the other hand, consider a passphrase like “iused2liveinrome” that seems simple but longer than common passwords. This passphrase would take an estimated 15,726,693 millennia to crack! This option means you are pretty safe unless someone somehow steals the passphrase.
4. There Is High Level of Compatibility for Passphrases
Pretty much every system will support passwords. You might feel concerned that they will not allow you to use passphrases instead.
The good news is that major operating systems, such as Windows, Linux, and macOS, allow you to use passphrases to log in to accounts. In fact, you can make them up to 127 characters!
Applications and websites often support the feature as well. Even when you are specifically asked to make a password, you can often do some tweaking to use a memorable passphrase.
5. Passphrases Work With Two-Factor Authentication for More Security
You may have heard about how companies have chosen to encrypt their passwords to make them safe. Have you also heard of the data breaches where an attacker got access to password hashes and still was able to steal information?
The great thing about passphrases on your systems is that you can take advantage of two-factor authentication. Even if someone does guess one credential, they will still need to know the other to gain access. For example, you might use an access card or biometrics along with the passphrase.
IT Support for Small Business: Now You Know All About Passphrases
Now that you know how passwords and passphrases differ, consider implementing them in your small business. Your users will find them more convenient to use, and your company’s security will improve because of it.
Even though passphrases offer security benefits, you should still encourage users to make strong ones. Using a common phrase with no numbers or special characters can still be quite easy to crack. Educate users on implementing different case letters along with symbols and numbers where possible.
If you are interested in getting IT support for small business, be sure to contact us!
Sagacent Technologies offers technology management and support, including proactive/preventative maintenance, onsite and offsite data back-ups, network and security audits, mobility solutions, disaster planning and emergency business resumption services. The company serves clients of 10 to 150 employees within the Silicon Valley region.