Don’t Open the Door to Hackers: Use Password Management & Single Sign-on

Employees with poor password practices can put entire businesses at risk. In fact, weak password security is one of the primary drivers of data breaches among small businesses, with 81% of them occurring when passwords are stolen or hacked, according to a Verizon report. 

Many employees know the dangers of repeating passwords but do it anyway because they become fatigued trying to keep track of so many credentials. This can cause employees to repeat passwords across their personal and professional logins and use easy-to-remember passwords that can be easily cracked by bad actors. 

A weakness like this can be an expensive burden on small businesses, which don’t always have the resources to heal from data breaches that cost small businesses an average of $2.35 million in 2020, according to IBM. Luckily, enterprise-grade single sign-on [SSO] password management software can incentivize employees to use much more complex passwords by only asking them to remember one set of credentials for all their work programs.

An SSO is a centrally managed authentication system that allows a user to gain access to multiple related but independent software programs using a single user ID and password.

Though it may seem like a simple tool, companies that use SSO can vastly improve their front-line defense. Keep reading to discover why your CPA firm should make the switch.

Keep Your Data Secure

Single sign-on uses behind-the-scenes encryption to verify a user’s identity. It then acts as an intermediary on behalf of the employee by deploying tokens that securely unlock access to certain applications. This Open Authorization protocol, known as OAuth, enables an employee’s identification to be securely verified across a range of programs without them having to type out each credential individually. 

The most popular SSO platforms also offer multi-factor authorization, which go a step further by asking employees to verify their identity in another way, such as with a code sent to their emails or phones. This additional level of verification alongside SSO is one of the strongest countermeasures to password theft, maximizing your organization’s identification security without piling cumbersome password management policies onto employees.  

One Password to Control All Accounts 

It’s no wonder hackers take great measures to steal log-in credentials when taking into account the modern-day fatigue associated with having to manage so many. A whopping 75% of Americans say they feel frustrated with having to remember and manage all of their passwords, which can lead to excessive reuse or the creation of easy-to-remember passwords.  

By using SSO, employees only have to remember one password. Therefore, they are incentivized to use more complicated and unique ones, or even company distributed passwords that would test extraordinarily high in the strength department. Password management software such as LastPass or Practice Protect offers password generators that can help CPA firms and their employees create reliably strong passwords for their accounts.

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With a less frustrating password management system, employees won’t be as bothered if company policy requires them to update their passwords regularly. 

Ease of Onboarding and Off-boarding Employees 

One of the best reasons to adopt SSO is the amount of control it gives to the decision-makers at your organization. Think of SSO as a master key, centrally controlled by the organization. This key enables leaders to easily manage individual access to certain programs from a single location, which can ease and expedite the onboarding and offboarding processes.

As an added bonus, SSO helps boost productivity by reducing login friction points. A simplified login process means fewer lockouts and fewer calls to the IT department. Implementing a robust password management program from the get-go also ensures that employees are educated from the moment they’re hired on the importance of cybersecurity. 

Stronger Passwords Reduce the Risk of Compromised Data 

Many business owners would find it unnerving to know that 24% of Americans have used easy-to-guess passwords like the word “password” or “123456.” And 66% report using the same password across multiple online accounts.

These lazy habits driven by password fatigue can cause major gaps in a small business’s cybersecurity plan, even if CPA firms have done everything in their power to fortify their systems. Stronger passwords are more difficult to guess because their uniqueness gives them a layer of invincibility in the hashing algorithms hackers use to decode credentials.

By implementing single sign-on with multi-factor authentication, using password generators to create sophisticated credentials, and implementing a corporate policy requiring employees to change their passwords frequently, small businesses can rest assured they’re protecting one of the key access areas used by bad actors, vastly decreasing the risk of compromised data.

At Tech Guru, we can help you navigate complex technology waters and help you stave off a devastating data breach. Take our Security Self-Assessment to see where your cybersecurity measures stack up to get started.