Changing mindsets for stronger security – but how?

By Robin Martin
Cybersecurity has never been such a high priority. But why is it so hard for individuals and businesses to shake off all their bad password habits?

We know the rules and yet we still ignore them. Many of us know the potential implications that come with reusing and forgetting passwords and that we are putting ourselves at greater risk of hacker-related breaches. However, people still struggle to make simple password hygiene part and parcel of their daily routine.

Sharing is not caring

A common practice nowadays that reduces our online security by making hackers’ job all too easy is sharing passwords freely between friends and family across multiple accounts. To get a grasp of the potential extent of the danger, there is a simple rule of thumb that equates the number of accounts where the same password is used with the overall risk of exposure. Put simply, it means that a single security incident can become a major breach with a host of accounts being compromised, with potentially devastating consequences for individuals and businesses alike.  ​

Prevent, don’t repent

Action should not be taken solely when our online security is put in active danger, especially given the heightened threat levels, because prevention is always better than the cure. For those who have been lucky enough to evade the hackers’ best efforts, it’s time to shed any complacency and get the ball rolling on simple and effective approaches, allowing us to get on with our jobs and personal online browsing safely and securely. ​

Early habits live long

Like many things in life, the trick to nurturing strong cyber behaviours starts with education. From a young age, we should be instilling a good understanding of the importance of cybersecurity and laying the foundations of positive behaviours to help build habits that will last a lifetime.

But for those who are stuck in their ways of long-term poor password behaviour, how can there be a complete shift in mindset? Scaremongering is certainly not the tactic to use, but it’s important to keep the eyes firmly fixed on the consequences of poor security posture. ​There needs to be a change in modern society’s outdated mindset of shaming people about their poor cybersecurity hygiene. The shift of mindsets needs to be from one where responsibility is with one person or an IT team, to each individual taking ownership of cybersecurity towards part of an established process of adopting a healthy and robust cybersecurity culture.

Collective culture of security

In commercial settings, it should never be any one person’s job to shoulder the responsibility for an entire organisation. Creating new risk-aware and security focused cultures should be top of organisations' to-do lists. The onus is on businesses to lead in this area by showing teams the value of positive cybersecurity habits. As part of this process there needs to be personal and business-wide incentives that ensure that change is brought strategically and structurally.

Password management for all

On both business and consumer levels it’s vital to highlight the benefits of using cutting edge password manager functionality. These now offer an enhanced user experience that has become very user friendly and light touch.

The best of breed password managers feature technologies including biometrics, SSO and federated identity, enabling users to log in to devices and applications without the need to type in a password. Comprehensive password managers also streamline the user experience, while still maintaining a high level of security and complete control for IT and security teams. This improves overall cybersecurity for individuals and staff within businesses while streamlining the experience for all – a combined win-win situation. ​

The path towards a positive password mindset is a relatively easy one, when keeping in mind these considerations. We should all keep in mind that data protection, when paired with human behavioural change, is a potent tool in the fight against hackers, cybercrime and personal losses.

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