Last year, the downward trend for business security continued, sparked by Covid-19-introduced Work From Home policies. The losses from hacking incidents went up by 64% and forced the FBI to warn small businesses right before Christmas. Here we are discussing How secure is a spreadsheet for passwords.
Furthermore, Verizon’s 2022 data-breach investigation reports that 80% of all incidents involved password hacking. Many small-to-medium businesses have limited budgets they can spend on cybersecurity, making them particularly vulnerable to cybercrime.
Instead of relying on sophisticated protection software, they choose free alternatives, like Google spreadsheets. This article will overview whether it’s a good idea to trust your passwords with a spreadsheet.
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How Secure Are Spreadsheets?
Even though spreadsheet tools have some security features, like good hash and salt values, they are not designed for information security. Spreadsheets are an excellent tool for graphic tasks involving calculation, but they do not offer enough to function as a password manager.
On the contrary, if you have a company, using them this way could put your business at a greater risk. Because they are used for data management and visualization, leaking it would expose all your passwords. Rogue internal employees may cause cyber accidents and can secretly download and copy a password sheet without your knowledge. So, how secure is spreadsheet for passwords?
Lastly, using spreadsheets for storing passwords is uncomfortable. It will make your company susceptible to brute forcing and credential-stuffing attacks that rely on simple and reused passwords. Employees will likely use weak and insecure passwords if they find it tedious to search for them on a file.
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Most Common Password Hacking Methods
Here are some common password hacking methods listed below:
It is one of the most common hacking techniques that aim to trick the victim into downloading an email attachment or clicking on a fraudulent backlink. It then infects the device with malware or spyware that can be used to extract data.
Even if you have encrypted the spreadsheet with a password, hackers can brute force it because it has no limits on how many times a bad password can be entered.
Cybercriminals use Phishing attacks to infect victims’ devices with malware. Two of the most common password-hacking malware are keyloggers and screen scrapers. As you might have guessed, Keyloggers log every keyboard keystroke to extract passwords. Unlike password managers, spreadsheets do not have an autofill function; typing them by hand will leave your system vulnerable.
Screen scrapers monitor victims’ activities and take screenshots when they encounter valuable data. Because spreadsheets display the data in plain text, a screen scraper will screenshot it and send all your passwords to the attacker.
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Many people use simple passwords that they can easily remember. It’s a risky practice that often results in a successful dictionary attack. This attack goes through every word in the English dictionary and tries it as a password.
Moreover, advanced dictionary attack software uses word combinations, numbers, and symbols, to crack open even more complex passwords.
How to Secure Your Passwords?
Securing your passwords takes little time and does not require in-depth technical knowledge. Below you will find four tips on how to do it.
- Do not use easy-to-guess passwords. According to cybersecurity experts, the most common 2022 passwords involve “qwerty,” “password,” and “123456”. Breaking such passwords is effortless as it does not require any hacking software. Cybercriminals will simply try the most common passwords first to gain access.
- Do not reuse the same password. Because people use so many password-protected apps, they tend to reuse the same password on several accounts. However, this leaves them open to credential-stuffing attacks. Hackers exploit numerous data leaks to obtain username-password combinations and try them out on various services. If your data has been leaked and you used it more than once, the chances of becoming a victim of a credential-stuffing attack increase several times.
- Do not use personal details. Many people use personal details in their passwords because they are easy to remember. It includes using a mother’s maiden name, hometown, pet’s name, etc. However, if you have ever shared such information online, someone can use it to guess your passwords.
- Use a password manager. This is the best and most efficient way to protect your confidential data. Cybersecurity experts developed these Password managers and store your passwords in an encrypted vault. Moreover, they offer an autofill feature, so you don’t have to type them manually. Instead of having to remember dozens of different passwords, you only have to remember one master password that unlocks the vault.
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How to Choose a Reliable Password Manager
Password managers significantly differ in what they bring to the table, but here’s what you should expect before subscribing.
Ensure your password manager offers the latest encryption algorithms to protect your vault. Most use the industry standard AES-256, which takes decades to break with the current computational power.
It’s especially important to pick a password-managing provider with a spotless reputation. One of the most popular password managers was hacked last year, and it’s best to avoid such services because you trust them with the most confidential data.
Lastly, some fully-developed managers provide data breach scanners that alert you of possible data leaks. It gives you time to change the leaked password before cybercriminals use the information to steal your accounts.
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Password hacking is a common cybercrime practice with a high success rate. A reliable password manager will secure your confidential information and is, by far, the best way to protect your passwords. So this was all about how secure is a spreadsheet for passwords. Moreover, storing your passwords in a spreadsheet exposes them to numerous vulnerabilities, so it’s best to rely on dedicated software for protection.
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET’s Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable e-reader and e-publishing expert. He’s also the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks and Nook e-books, as well as audiobooks.