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What’s the biggest risk to your online security? You.

What’s the biggest risk to your online security? You.

Passwords are your defense against cybercrime.

You are your biggest risk to your online security. Make sure to use different passwords and don't share them. (Photo: ArtemSam/Thinkstock)

Are there malicious forces trying to gain access to secure accounts? Yes, but malicious hackers intentionally focused on accessing your farm office’s computer using software to figure out your password – that’s unlikely. The truth is, you are the biggest risk to your online security. We use passwords and passcodes for software, email, banking, cloud storage – your passwords are the keys to your digital kingdom. Do you use the same key for your smart office, your truck and your tractor? You don’t. Imagine the risk if you left that key laying around! Avoid giving away the key to your digital space and secure your passwords. Here are some tips to help you to ensure your smart office’s password security:

1. Keep it close. Never change your password through an unsolicited email that you receive. It is possible it could be a phishing email. Always go directly to the program or website to make a password update.

2. Never forget a password again. Browsers can store usernames and passwords for you, but services like LastPass are accessible on any device, can help you to assess your password’s strength and add an additional layer of security.

3. Memorable, not simple. A password should be easy for you to remember, but complex. You want a password with a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols without repetition. Never use the same password for every account.

4. Take two steps. Whenever available, add an additional level of verification. With two-step authentication, when a device is not recognized, you will receive a text, phone call or email with an additional code to allow you to login to your account. Most banks now require a second step.

5. Setup alerts. Check account settings to see if you can add alerts to your services, especially financial ones, to be aware of when there is access to your account or if actions are taken on it.

6. Add a backup plan. Many email providers allow you to setup password recovery as a backup option in case you forget it. Some variations of this method include remembering a pin, code word, image, or adding a cell phone number to receive a text message verification. When possible, enter your information to add recovery options.

7. Change it. Set a reminder to update passwords or set your account to prompt a password change. If you have a server for your smart office, you likely have password management tools. If you are unsure, ask your network administrator.

8. Check in with your team. Make sure your employees are paying attention to online and password security, and that they are following your guidelines to keep secure passwords and change them when necessary.

Do you have tools or tips to help others stay secure online? Tell me about it in the comments below, on Twitter @nerdsquawk or via email at jessica@nerdsquawk.com.


The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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