Password security is a serious challenge for agencies and other small businesses employing freelancers and temporary contractors. People often think hackers only gain access by hacking logins with complex viruses and trojans.
But the truth is, most data breaches happen because marketing or design agencies don't take enough care when creating and sharing passwords.
Agencies must be aware that they're more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats than they might think! In fact, 70% of all cyber-attacks target small businesses. Hackers will often target agencies in an attempt to gain access to larger organizations.
It's much easier to hack a small agency where employees are unaware of sophisticated phishing attacks than a large corporation with a dedicated team of cybersecurity experts. For this reason, agencies need to make sure they have robust password security policies in place.
For starters, using a password manager like TeamPassword is critical to minimize exposure to password security vulnerabilities.
Sign up for a 14-day free trial and see how you can keep your data private
Increase in Security Breaches at Small Businesses in 2020
According to Help Net Security, a leading news publication on information security, small businesses experienced a significant 50% increase in data breaches for 2020.
Unauthorized access, where attackers use a username and password to gain access, is still the number one cause of breaches, which saw a surge of 450%.
"Questionable yet common security practices, like sharing or reusing passwords, gave bad actors an easy path to gaining access to personally identifiable information..."
Common Small Business Cybersecurity Issues
So, what can small businesses and agencies do to combat cyber attacks? Firstly, let's look at some of the common cybersecurity issues for small businesses.
Most agency employees use their own laptops, tablets, and other devices to sign into company and client accounts. If your agency uses contractors and freelancers, then you're open to more networks and vulnerabilities.
Shared or Default Passwords
Another major cybersecurity vulnerability for agencies is the sharing of passwords and using an application's default password.
When setting up a new account login, users must immediately reset to a long (minimum 12 character) secure password, preferably using a password generator.
To minimize password security issues, users must change passwords at least once a month and never share passwords with colleagues or contractors.
Agencies must also be cautious of reusing passwords across various accounts. When you reuse passwords, you're essentially creating a "master key," making it easy to access multiple logins with just one password.
For many agencies, cybersecurity training is not a priority. Most small teams are already pushed to capacity, and just the thought of training staff about cybersecurity threats and password management seems disruptive and unproductive.
Is Your Agency at Risk?
Many agencies assume hackers have no interest in infiltrating their systems and accounts because they're a small business. But this assumption is incorrect.
Agencies often service large corporations, the "big fish" that hackers want to infiltrate. It's much easier for a hacker to get into an agency's systems to gain access to one of their corporate clients.
The gateway into most systems and accounts is through staff (permanent employees, temps, freelancers, contractors). Agencies must brief team members about phishing tactics and use a password manager to mitigate password security issues.
Here are some key factors to consider when assessing your agency's cybersecurity risk.
Does your agency use freelancers?
If your agency uses freelancers, it's doubtful that you have the means to vet these individuals or conduct background checks effectively. In most cases, freelancers are hired to complete a few tasks and are gone within a few days or a week.
Freelancers will often require access to accounts like content management systems, email marketing software, marketing tools, and more.
Make sure your agency is using a password manager to allocate passwords to temporary staff and freelancers.
Sharing Passwords with Team Members & Clients
Even if your agency doesn't use outside team members, sharing passwords internally or with clients creates vulnerabilities.
Sharing passwords over email or via a spreadsheet is quick and easy, but it's also extremely risky. Even if it's not malicious, emails and spreadsheets are easily shared and therefore highly vulnerable.
TeamPassword allows you to create groups to share passwords with team members and clients. This way, you only give access to team members and clients involved in the project.
What Happens When Employees Leave Your Agency?
When an employee leaves a small business or agency, they might still have passwords saved in their browsers, emails, or notes. For companies that experience high employee turnover, this could be as many as 10 to 20 people a year.
Changing every password your company has access to each time an employee leaves is impractical and could lead to errors. It's much easier to remove access for a single individual than changing all your passwords.
With a password manager, you can do both. You can easily remove any user from a group of passwords and, to be extra cautious, generate new passwords with just one click. The passwords will update for all your users, and work can continue without any downtime.
Mitigate Security Risks for Teams with TeamPassword
No matter how big or small your business might be, hopefully, this article has demonstrated that effective cybersecurity is critical.
With unauthorized access being the number one cause of breaches, agencies must mitigate security risks with a robust password manager like TeamPassword.
TeamPassword allows small businesses to create multiple password groups for their teams and only allow access to those who need it. TeamPassword's activity log lets you monitor account logins, login updates, and sharing access with new members.
TeamPassword also features a built-in unique password generator to make it easy for team members to effortlessly create long, secure passwords.
Ready to start creating strong passwords? Sign up for a 14-day free trial and see how TeamPassword can help your agency's team and clients work securely and efficiently.