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Optimizing Security and Productivity in Marketing Teams: Best Practices in Password Management

One of the first tasks in taking over a new marketing position or managing a new client with your agency is getting control of the different marketing, advertising, social media, and content platforms. It can be frustrating when login and password credentials are lost, forgotten, or even left with an employee or contractor leaving the brand. I’m thankful that most platforms are incorporating enterprise access tools where you can delegate some control of your platforms to internal or external users… and remove control when they’re gone.

Poor passwords contributed to 81% of corporate data breaches. 27% of hackers tried to guess other people’s passwords, and 17% made accurate guesses. Brute force hacking attempts as such occur every 39 seconds.

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If your company is seeking to manage platforms with a team or external resource, I’d encourage you to validate whether or not you can do this easily with the platform. Of course, it’s not always an option, so you should mandate some security protocols and processes required for employees, agencies, or contractors to work on your platforms.

The Challenges of Password Management in Marketing

For marketing teams and agencies, efficient and secure password management is paramount. The right approach can prevent issues like losing access to critical accounts and mitigate risks associated with password mismanagement, such as hacking and phishing.

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Source: Dashlane

Marketing professionals often grapple with password-related issues ranging from sharing and retraction to hacking. These challenges can lead to significant security breaches, eroding trust, and potentially losing critical digital assets.

Best Practices for Marketing Teams

  1. Require Brand Ownership of Logins: If your platform doesn’t offer enterprise roles and permissions for external users, provide your contractor or agency with a corporate email address. This could even be a distribution email like marketing@domain.com where each person can be easily added or removed from the account.
  2. Implement Robust Password Policies: Establish and enforce policies that mandate using strong, unique passwords for each service and encourage changing them often. Do not use common passwords across platforms, especially when sharing access with the same credentials. Recycling passwords means that multiple systems are at risk when one password is hacked.
  3. Implement Two-Factor or Multi-Factor Authentication: Mandate two-factor authentication (2FA) or Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) on every platform. If SMS is the option, try to utilize a brand-owned phone number that allows text messages. Most modern VOIP platforms offer texting. If your system doesn’t have it, you may want to contact your provider or even migrate to a new platform. Advocate for biometric recognition on a personal level with your employees and contractors to improve user experience (UX) without compromising security.

Multi-factor authentication can stop 96% of bulk phishing attacks and 76% of targeted attacks.

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  1. Encourage the Use of Password Managers: Promote the adoption of password management tools to streamline creating, storing, and sharing secure passwords. Google Password Manager with Chrome and Apple devices Keychain Manager are great personal tools for generating, securing, storing, and using passwords.
  1. Share Passwords Securely: If you are not utilizing a password manager, share passwords securely. Email is not secure or encrypted. Nor is text messaging on non-Apple devices. You may also want to incorporate a password vault on a securely hosted website where your clients can enter their credentials.
  2. Audit and Monitor Access: Regularly review who has access to what platforms and ensure that access rights are up to date, especially following employee transitions.

Regularly educate your team members about the importance of password security and two-factor authentication and keep them updated with the latest practices and tools. You may want to incorporate signed policies and record your training sessions in case of a security breach and subsequent legal issues.

Password Management Tool Features

Password management tools are essential for individuals and organizations to secure their online accounts and sensitive information. Here’s an overview of standard features found in password management tools:

  • Password Generation: These tools can generate strong, complex passwords that are difficult for hackers to guess. Users can specify password length and complexity.
  • Password Storage: Password managers securely store passwords for various accounts in an encrypted format. Users only need to remember one master password to access their stored passwords.
  • Auto-Fill and Auto-Login: Password managers can automatically fill in login credentials for websites and apps, simplifying the login process. Some can even automatically log in when a user visits a saved site.
  • Secure Data Storage: Beyond passwords, password management tools often allow users to store other sensitive information like credit card details, secure notes, and personal information.
  • Encryption: Strong encryption is a core feature of these tools. They use advanced encryption algorithms to protect stored data, ensuring that even if someone gains access to the tool, they can’t easily decipher the stored passwords.
  • Cross-Platform Support: Most password managers are available on multiple platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. This ensures users can access their passwords from various devices.
  • Browser Extensions: Password managers often offer browser extensions that integrate with popular web browsers. These extensions help with auto-filling login forms and saving new passwords.
  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) Support: Many password managers support 2FA and MFA, adding an extra layer of security to user accounts. They can store 2FA codes and even autofill them.
  • Password Auditing: Some tools provide a password health check, identifying weak or reused passwords and suggesting changes.
  • Secure Sharing: Users can securely share passwords or login information with trusted individuals or colleagues, without revealing the actual password.
  • Emergency Access: Password managers often offer a way to grant emergency access to trusted contacts in case the user cannot access their account.
  • Biometric Authentication: Many password management apps support biometric authentication methods like fingerprint or facial recognition for added security.
  • Password Change Automation: Some tools can automate the password change process for supported websites, making it easier to update passwords regularly.
  • Syncing: Password managers typically offer syncing capabilities, so changes made on one device are reflected on all other connected devices.
  • Audit Logs: Advanced password management tools may include audit logs, allowing users or administrators to see who accessed what information and when.
  • Security Alerts: Password managers can notify users of security breaches or compromised accounts, prompting them to change their passwords.
  • Import and Export: Users can often import existing passwords from browsers or other password managers and export their data for backup purposes.

Overall, password management tools are crucial for enhancing online security, simplifying password management, and safeguarding sensitive information across multiple accounts and devices.

Password Management Tools and Platforms

Here are some of the more popular password management tools and platforms:

  • Dashlane: Dashlane is a user-friendly password manager known for its sleek interface and strong security features. It helps users generate and store complex passwords, securely stores payment information, and offers a built-in digital wallet for easy online transactions.
  • LastPass: LastPass is a popular password manager renowned for its robust security and cross-platform compatibility. It offers features like password generation, secure storage, and the ability to share passwords with trusted individuals, making it a versatile choice for users seeking password management solutions.
  • PassPack: PassPack is a secure password manager for individuals and small teams. It focuses on simplicity and strong encryption, allowing users to store and organize passwords in a secure vault while providing convenient access from any device with an internet connection.

It’s worth stating that there have been notable breaches in password management tools, highlighting the vulnerabilities even in systems designed for security. One significant breach occurred with LastPass, a widely used password manager. In this incident, attackers were able to access encrypted password vaults. Although the vaults remained secure due to the master password known only to the account holder, the breach raised concerns about the vulnerability of password manager vaults.

This incident was unprecedented in the sector and became a reference point for the potential risks of using such tools. In response to these breaches, companies like LastPass have taken steps to further secure their systems, such as deploying new security technologies, rotating relevant secrets and certificates, and enhancing their security policies and access controls.

Pros and Cons of Password Management Tools

Password management tools have become a common solution in addressing these challenges. They offer several features that enhance both security and efficiency:

  • Secure Storage and Encryption: These tools store passwords in an encrypted format, ensuring they are not easily accessible by unauthorized parties.
  • Password Sharing and Emergency Access: They allow for the secure sharing of passwords among team members with varying access levels. Some tools also provide emergency access features, enabling designated individuals to gain access under specific circumstances.
  • Cross-Platform Synchronization: These tools often support synchronization across devices and platforms, maintaining a central repository for all passwords and ensuring uniform access across various digital properties.
  • Password Strength Analysis and Generation: They can analyze password strength and generate strong, unique passwords for each service, significantly reducing the risk of multi-service breaches.
  • Breach Notifications: Many password management platforms scan the dark web and alert you when your passwords have been breached and are at risk.
  • Audit Trails: Password management tools sometimes offer audit trails, providing a record of who accesses what and when, which is crucial for security audits and compliance.

These incidents underscore the importance of using password managers and ensuring that the passwords stored within them are unique and not reused across different sites. It also emphasizes the need for users to be vigilant about the password managers’ security and keep abreast of any updates or breaches.

These breaches also highlight the ongoing discussion in the cybersecurity community about the transition to passwordless technologies. Some experts believe that passwordless authentication, often involving FIDO-compliant physical security keys, could help mitigate the damage of such breaches. The move towards passwordless tech is a future direction for enhancing online security.

For users of password managers, it’s essential to stay informed about any security incidents and to follow the recommended actions provided by the service providers to protect their accounts and data. This may include changing master passwords, reviewing multi-factor authentication policies, and being cautious about the information stored in these vaults.

Effective password management is critical to safeguarding digital assets in the marketing industry. By leveraging password management tools and secure transmission services, marketing teams can protect their digital properties while maintaining efficiency in their operations. Regular training, policy updates, and a balance between stringent security measures and user convenience are essential to achieving security and productivity in digital marketing.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is CMO of OpenINSIGHTS and the founder of the Martech Zone. Douglas has helped dozens of successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to assist companies in implementing and automating their sales and marketing strategies. Douglas is an internationally recognized digital transformation and MarTech expert and speaker. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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