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Passwords – 3 Fails and 3 Wins

Data protection iconBad passwords are the cause for over 80% of cyber security incidents.

Bad passwords are bad for business.  ID Agent, a leading provider of Dark Web ID monitoring and protection services, recently surveyed over 2 billion passwords to find the worst problems and mistakes. The research boiled down the least secure passwords into three groups.

  1. Team Pride: Using your favorite team or team slogan is risky. This information about you is often easily found on social media.
  2. Rock and Roll: Your music preferences are also likely visible to the world on social media and in streaming services. As these services may or may not be secure, band names, song titles, and artists are high risk passwords.
  3. Heroes: Heroes are weak and vulnerable when they are part of your password. Our favorite hero — fictional or not — is easily discoverable and exploitable.

Bad password habits can lead to Dark Web exposure. Here are 3 ways to protect yourself.

Communicate and Educate: Consistently communicate with your team about cyber risks and the need for good password habits. Educate and guide your team to reinforce behaviors.

  • Discourage reuse, sequential, iterated, recycled, or simple passwords.
  • Encourage use of secure, company-approved, password vaults.
  • Solve access problems to prevent the need for sharing passwords for convenience.
  • Increase phishing training to avoid password compromises.

Prevent & Protect: One of the best ways to prevent breaches due to compromised passwords is to add multi-factor authentication (MFA) for every user.

  • Weak user-made passwords are stronger with a second identifier.
  • Stolen/compromised passwords are much harder to use with MFA in place.
  • MFA is a compliance tool with HIPAA, PCD-DSS, SJIC, and other industry and legal regulations.
  • Identifiers and tokens can be delivered via phone, app, or fob.

Other prevention and protection strategies include: advanced threat protection, encryption of data at rest and in motion, permissions management, and dark web monitoring.  Dark Web monitoring lets you know when personal or company data is circulating, even if you have not had a breach. Third-party partner and service breaches put your systems and data at risk. As such, you should:

  • Monitor the Dark Web for lists of you company’s potentially compromised passwords and available personally identifiable information (PII).
  • Spot compromised passwords that employees may be reusing on our systems.
  • Find password and credential threats quickly, to mitigate them faster.

Respond and Recover: Even with protections in place, cyber attacks can succeed.  Whether a data breach, denial of service attack, or ransomware, be prepared to respond and recover. You want and need to get your business up and running as quickly as possible.

  • Backup all company data, on premise and in the cloud, so that you can recover corrupted files quickly.
  • Have business continuity solutions in place for critical systems and applications, so that you can be up and running in minutes or hours, rather than days or weeks.

Your Next Step

CPR With “CPR” in mind, learn how Cumulus Global can help you minimize your risks and maximize your recovery to ensure your business continues to run smoothly.

Schedule a complimentary cloud advisor appointment to learn more.

The Google Apps / Gmail Breach That Isn’t

Health Check News over the past few days that hackers have posted almost 5 million email addresses and passwords on an online forum has caught the media’s attention in large part because about 4.7 million of the addresses appear to be gmail accounts.

This is NOT, however, a breach of Gmail or Google Apps.  

The information appears to be from other sites and sources for which users provide their email address as their login.  In fact, several people that have found their address on the list report that the information is not their login information for Gmail or Google Apps.  As reported by Mashable, your risk is low.

Given it is not a Google Apps or Gmail breach, are you at risk?

Maybe!  Google has already analyzed the list and found some users that may be using their Google account password for other sites.  Google has notified these users and is forcing them to change their passwords. For the bigger picture:

If you use the same username/email address and password for all of your services, and one service is breached, then you are at risk of hackers gaining access to some or all of your services.

If a service is breached and you have granted the service access to your Google Apps environment, your data may be at risk.

Recommended Actions

Step One:  It is not easy, but avoid using the same password for multiple services, sites, or accounts.  And don’t write passwords down to remember them.

Step Two:  Be careful when and how you allow services to connect with one another.  For example, LinkedIn needs your gmail.com password if you are going to import contacts. While this may be safe to do, other services may not be as trustworthy.

Step Three:  Read and understand security permissions when you install apps on your mobile devices.  Many apps recognize and request access to other apps and services already on your phone.  Human nature is to say “grant” or “allow” without reading or fully understanding the implications, risks, or the trustworthiness of the app’s creators.


Note for Businesses, Governments, and Schools running Google Apps: Users installing 3rd party apps, particularly on cell phones, may be granting access to data stored in Google Apps.  To see if you have a risk, we offer a Google Apps Security Health Check that will document access rights and evaluate your level or risk, if any.  

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