Protecting Passwords

I recently had a enlightening experience working with a local retailer, as I approached a workstation on their sales floor to install a new a new receipt design, the store manager called out from across the store Oh by the way the system administrator password is [....] just in case you need it .

There are really two things wrong here:

1. I never asked for the password.
2. The password was shouted out loud enough that all in the shop could have heard and written down the system administrator password for later use.

All system passwords should be protected as well as the retailer would protect the cash in his/her cash drawer. It is in essence equal in value to all of the cash in your cash drawer and the value of your entire inventory and the value of your customer data combined. All too often the default password remains when a software system is installed, countless wireless routers are installed with default passwords that make a network vulnerable, but we share passwords that leave our businesses just as vulnerable.

The system administrator password needs to be protected and not tossed about with out concern. Trusting an individual with the system administrator s password when you go on vacation or for just a period of time will lead to loss. If it is necessary to give out a password for support or maintenance purposes, change the password as soon as possible afterwards.

When choosing a password, follow these guidelines:

1. Do not use the same password that you use for you ATM card.
2. Do not use passwords that you have used for years because they are easy to remember.
3. Use combination of letters and numbers when possible alternate upper and lower case letters.
4. Do not write your password down and pass it along to others.

The first place I look it I need a password and no one is around is under the key board. I have found more passwords that I can say in this most-obvious location.
Many folks reading this may be rolling their eyes if they have read this far everyone knows that they need to protect their passwords, but all will agree that password protection is extremely important in safeguarding your point of sale software.

Remember passwords are like politicians and should be changed frequently.

Brett Reed
Technical Manager