Mastering the Art of Password Creation

Like many computer users, small business owners often feel overwhelmed by the burden of managing all of the passwords they need to use on a daily basis. Fortunately, there are a few simple rules you can implement that will greatly reduce the probability of experiencing a data breach without unduly burdening your users/employees. How difficult a password is to crack is primarily a function of its length and the number of character possibilities each position in the password can assume. Security experts prefer the use of pass phrases that are at least 10 characters long, but at a minimum, they recommend all passwords (laptop, e-mail, phone, etc.) be at least six characters long and contain lower case and upper case letters and at least one numeral.

To give you an idea of the impact this has—it is more than 1,000 times more difficult to crack a six-character password than a four-character password.

While most users will inevitably use too few different passwords for the various information tools they use, if you can at least use different passwords for system and e-mail access businesses will also greatly reduce the likelihood of a breach of one system spreading throughout your company.

Phillip Dunkelberger President and CEO PGP Corp. Menlo Park, Calif.

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.