These days, you hear a lot about data security and maybe dont think there is much you can do as an everyday user. But, there are a few very important things that can be done on the workstations to help your computer network consultant. Here are a couple of quick tips to safeguard your desktop from hackers, or even the nosy coworker.
Passwords are most often the first line of protection for companies. But a weak password means weak protection. Hackers will try different attacks that either try to guess the password, or will try a series of successive characters with the hopes of finding the right combination that will equal the password. An example of a weak password is any single word or compound word written in plain English such as airplane or your childs name or pets name. Those are easy to guess and easy to randomize. A strong password contains the following characteristics:
* It is at least 6 characters long
* It does not contain any part of the users ID
* It contains at least 3 of the 5 properties listed below:
1. Lowercase letters
2. Uppercase letters
4. Special characters such as !, $, #, etc.
5. Unicode characters
Some people say, Ill never remember a password like that. Thats why security-savvy users rely on acronyms. Heres an example.
Start with a phrase
Its Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
Change that to its initials
Change some of the letters to symbols that look like letters, then mix upper case and lower case
Now that is a strong password. You have 8 characters, lowercase, uppercase, numbers, and a special character (the at sign). That will be hard to guess, nearly impossible for a dictionary attack, and to help you remember, your acronym is Its Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.
Business owners can enforce this policy by enabling a group policy object across the domain. That means that you need to have a server and the policy gets set on the server. At that point, everyone that logs on to the domain will be required to have a password that fits the requirements.
Locking the Workstation
This is a simple security measure, but an effective one, and one that is often overlooked. When the workstation (or laptop) is locked, it means that the screen saver comes up and the user will need to hit Ctrl+Alt+Del to get back to the desktop. There are three important points to enforce regarding this practice.
Each time you leave your workstation for more than a minute, lock the workstation. This includes taking breaks, walking upstairs, going to lunch, etc. To lock the workstation, press the Windows key on your keyboard and the L key simultaneously.
Make sure a password is required to unlock the screen saver, otherwise someone can come behind you, hit Ctrl+Alt+Del and get access to your computer.
Make sure that the setting is configured to automatically go to screen saver after 10 minutes of inactivity. That way if you walk away from your desk and forget to lock the workstation, it will automatically be done for you.
After reading the last item, some users will be tempted to think, Well I will just set it to automatically lock after 10 minutes, then I wont have to worry about remembering to do it myself. However, that is an unsafe practice to get into. If you know that you are getting up to go to lunch or go into a meeting, dont leave your computer unprotected for 10 minutes until it locks automatically. Go ahead and lock the workstation before you get up.
This can also be put into a domain policy on the server.
If you are unsure about how to set the domain policies, please contact Kotori Technologies, we can help you secure your workstations.