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Townsend Security Data Privacy Blog

The Word “Password” isn’t the Password

Posted by Adam Kleinerman on May 10, 2012 9:33:00 AM

password protectionThe security breach involving Global Payments, a US credit card processing company is still in complete disarray months after the breach took place. A little over a month ago, it was reported that a maximum of a staggering 10 million credit card numbers could have been apprehended during a five week period starting in late January. Global Payments reluctantly admitted to being the victims countering with a figure of 1.5 million credit card numbers stolen. While there isn’t any reason why any company should have this happen to them, it is a growing trend to claim a bit of ignorance on the matter, or at least try to redistribute the blame.

When these breaches happen, many business owners and executives are blindsided by the blow. Of course they have security software, and in most cases, if they have it, the word “breach” shouldn’t have any place inside the walls of these businesses. But, as we’ve seen, credit card numbers and other personal information that should be safe, sometimes isn’t. Having strong passwords is the first step an organization should be doing to keep unauthorized individuals from accessing sensitive information.

Make sure that any passwords that you choose to enter are not what as known as “default passwords.” It seems logical enough, but a default password is one of most common flaws in a security system that leads to a breach. Hackers have databases full of default passwords, and those can be typed in at a rapid pace. Some of these include the obvious “1-2-3-4-5” or “a-s-d-f.” Any sequence of characters that in some universe make sense in a logical order should be completely abandoned. Also, birthdays or dates that can be easily discovered should be the last passwords that are selected. It is far better to come up with something so outrageous, and take the extra time to completely type it out then to use simple passwords that are already on databases. Also, use different passwords for different accounts. That way, if one is discovered, the rest are still secure.

Your credit card company should be monitoring all activity on your accounts, so that if anything suspicious is going on, you will be notified about it instantly. You don’t want to be on this list of companies that have allowed breaches, so make sure to be smart about your passwords. If you ever had a tree house and the bully next door successfully guessed “peanut butter” as the password, you would have to, begrudgingly, let him in. But, he probably wouldn’t guess “138927491AsmaraEritrea53211” so taking the smart choice would pay off.

For more information on data privacy, download our podcast Data Privacy for the Non-Technical Person.  Patrick Townsend, our Founder & CTO, discusses what PII (personally identifiable information) is, what the most effective methods for protecting PII, as well as the first steps your company should take towards establishing a data privacy strategy.

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Topics: Data Privacy, password

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