Password Management: The Complete Guide to Securing Your IT Environment

BY IT GLUE | December 27, 2023

From banking apps to Netflix accounts, the passwords you create go everywhere on the internet. While simple passwords are easy to remember, they can also be compromised instantly. The dark web is full of stolen credentials that can be easily bought by hackers from all over the world. In this complex digital age, how do you secure the passwords you use for various accounts? The answer – a robust password management strategy.

In this blog, let’s explore the different aspects of password management and how you can effectively secure your passwords with a powerful password manager.

What is password management?

The focus of password management is to prevent unauthorized access. You can achieve that by incorporating various policies and sustainable practices for storing and managing passwords from their creation to closure. Centralized password management ensures easy management of complex passwords and provides secure access to critical information stored within an organization.

Why is password management important?

The IT landscape is expanding at a rapid pace. The number of tools used by people in an IT setting has increased considerably over the last decade. You need strong passwords to authenticate your logins and keep cybercriminals at bay. However, most people find it complex to maintain different passwords for different logins. As a result, they engage in poor practices like reusing the same credentials all over the web or writing down their credentials on sticky notes.

These practices can be quite dangerous for your digital security. When you have a password management tool in place, all you have to do is remember one master password. This allows you to create strong and unique passwords that are difficult to crack. Also, you can securely share logins with your team members when required without compromising your security.

What are the different types of password management?

Not all passwords are the same. There are personal passwords you use every day for your day-to-day online accounts, and there are business passwords that provide access to critical data in an organization. It is important to have different password management practices based on the significance of these accounts. Some of the common password management types are as follows:

Personal password management

These are your daily life passwords including your banking info, your Netflix account, email accounts, etc. Many people have poor personal password management practices, and it is quite common to use sticky notes to write down passwords. Some login credentials like banking information cannot fall into the wrong hands. You can ensure better password management by using a password manager that comes as a browser extension.

Business personal password management

These are business-related passwords that have an individual login like Salesforce or any other cloud-based SaaS. Many organizations let their employees have their own password management practices, and this can make their entire IT infrastructure vulnerable to attacks. You need a strong password manager that reinforces security across your IT environment.

Business admin passwords

Admin passwords are of utmost importance in an IT infrastructure. This may also include shared logins among multiple technicians like Office 365. Ordinary password management tools are not sufficient to maintain admin passwords. You need a strong password management solution that enables easy sharing of logins among multiple users.

What is a password management policy?

According to Verizon, an estimated 81% of security breaches are caused by poor passwords. If you wish to eliminate password-related breaches in your organization, you need to incorporate a strong password management policy that outlines rules for the creation and management of passwords in your organization.

You need to create a detailed document that includes the policy’s purpose and the requirements that must be met when passwords are created. For instance, you can set the length of the password along with the character requirements (lower case, upper case, special characters, numbers, etc.). You can also set policies for maximum login attempts, the duration for password change, multifactor authentication requirements, etc.

When you have a robust password management tool, it is easy to create and enforce policies throughout your organization.

What is password management software?

Password management software refers to a software tool that stores and manages passwords in an encrypted database. Besides storing the passwords you create, you can also use this software to generate complex, unique passwords that ensure secure authentication. When you use a password manager, you have to remember only the master password to access this tool. The passwords stored in the encrypted vault can be retrieved as and when they are required.

How does password management software work?

Password managers work in a simple mechanism. All your passwords are stored in the vault first. When you are logging in to an account, you just need to access the vault with the matter password. All your complex and lengthy passwords can be easily retrieved whenever you need them.

Most top password management tools like IT Glue also come with something called host-proof hosting. It means the password manager will have zero knowledge of what is stored in the vault. The user data stored here is fully encrypted, and it can be accessed only with the security key. These different layers of defenses make it extremely difficult for cybercriminals to access the stored passwords.

Some of the different types of password managers are listed below.

  • On-premises password managers: These password managers are preferred by small organizations that have their own closed environments. These are privately hosted and may be used even without the internet.
  • Cloud-based password managers: Here, the passwords are stored in cloud servers. You can access these passwords from anywhere in the world. The cloud servers are centrally hosted and can be scaled up whenever required.
  • Browser-based password managers: Top internet browsers have extensions for password managers. These extensions can easily retrieve the passwords and autofill the credentials whenever required.
  • Mobile password managers: There are also password managers available for mobile devices of various operating systems. They function similarly by auto-filling passwords in various websites and mobile applications.
  • Single sign-on (SSO): This is an authentication method that allows users to login into various applications and websites with the help of a single set of credentials. To take advantage of this method, you have to sign up with an identity provider and leverage this identity across multiple platforms.

Alternatives to a password manager

Without a robust password manager, you may have to use any of the following methods to manage your passwords.

  • Documents or notes applications on their phones or laptops
  • Sticky notes and leave them near their desktop
  • A password protected master spreadsheet with all passwords

Many people still use methods because it is convenient, and they mistakenly believe that these are secure ways. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that passwords stored in these modes can easily be compromised. In addition, a lack of audit capabilities also means it will be hard to trace a breach or prove compliance when required.

What are the benefits of using a password manager?

Managing your passwords becomes much easier when you have a password manager in the system. Some of the key benefits of using a password manager are as follows.

  • Single source of truth for all passwords: Your password manager becomes the single source of truth for all your passwords. You can manage all your passwords in a centralized solution and access them whenever you want.
  • Removes the need to memorize passwords: When you have a password manager, you don’t have to memorize or write down complex, lengthy passwords. You can retrieve passwords when required or simply use the browser extension to autofill your passwords.
  • Boost productivity: You can autofill credentials and log in to your accounts instantly. This helps you save time. Moreover, it prevents downtime caused by lost or forgotten passwords. This enables you to work more efficiently.
  • Easy collaboration: When working on shared business accounts, you can use a password manager to provide temporary control to your team members. This boosts collaboration without compromising your security.
  • Auto prompts for new passwords to be stored: When you create a new password for a new account, you will get the auto prompt in your password solution to store it in the vault.
  • Eliminate shoulder surfers: When you use your passwords in a public setting, you risk attacks from shoulder surfers who now use the latest technology like micro-cameras to steal passwords. With features like SSO, you don’t have to use passwords every time you have to login into an account.

What are password management best practices?

Some of the best practices for password management are as follows.

  • Create lengthy, complex passwords: Most short passwords have already found their way to the dark web and can be easily compromised with a brute force attack. Password managers can automatically generate complex, lengthy and unique passwords that are difficult to crack.
  • Create unique passwords for different accounts: Reusing passwords is another easy way to compromise multiple accounts at the same time. You need to create unique passwords for different accounts.
  • Keep your passwords secret: All your passwords must be kept secret. Writing them down on excel sheets or sticky notes can compromise them easily. With a password manager, you can store all your passwords securely without anyone else accessing them.
  • Practice password security: Password management is not just a one-time activity. It is something that must be practiced every day. Don’t share passwords with others, don’t leave them for others to find and don’t use shady password managers. Also, make sure you follow the best security practices when it comes to passwords.
  • Define a password management policy: Draft a password management policy and enforce it across your organization. Also, make sure you periodically review your policies and identify violations when they occur.

When choosing a password management tool, make sure that it has the following features:

  • SOC 2 Type II – This is a compliance standard that is concerned with how well a company is safeguarding its customer data. When your password tool is SOC 2 compliant, it is easy to ensure compliance and submit reports during an audit.
  • SSO – This gives you complete control over your accounts without having to log in to different apps and websites. When working on multiple busy tasks, SSO makes the process more efficient.
  • IP Access Control – You can use this control to assign which IP address can access the critical data in your organization.
  • Host-proof hosting – You must make sure that your passwords are safeguarded even from the service provider. This allows you to encrypt your passwords, and even the service provider cannot access them without your security key.
  • 2FA or MFA – The security of the traditional username and password login is supplemented by an additional layer of protection. This provides better control as to who has access to your data.
  • Audit trails – This refers to the series of records documented by your password manager pertaining to user activity.
  • At-risk password reports – When an employee leaves, it’s important to understand what passwords they have access to and would require changing.
  • Sensitive passwords access notification – When your sensitive passwords are accessed by someone, you must get a notification to verify their authenticity. This helps you prevent cyberattacks originating from internal actors.

Password management with IT Glue

IT Glue is an award-winning documentation solution that comes packed with powerful password management features. With this, you can securely store and access both your business personal passwords and team-based passwords, and you can easily relate them to the rest of your documentation.

IT Glue has granular permissions so you can control who can access the passwords, and it also has OTP for admin passwords, so multiple technicians can access admin accounts like office 365 all securely. It also with SSO, IP access control, host proof hosting, MFA, audit trails and more, all within a SOC 2 type ii compliant solution.

To know more about how IT Glue can help you with password management, request a demo.

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