When should I change my password? And other Tech Tips for Small Businesses

By Anne Chow, President National Business, AT&T Business

When you’re a small business owner, success is often measured by growth. This could mean growth from expanding your product offerings, growth achieved from a big customer win or growth delivered through impact to your local community.

Currently there are more than 30 million small businesses working towards that and more. And on an increasing basis, small business owners are looking towards technology as a key enabler to their growth.

As we celebrate Small Business Week, let’s take another look at several latest technologies and insights – cybersecurity, 5G, networking, and even free device delivery – available to help SMBs grow, while allowing them to be more efficient and effective.

Cybersecurity – the latest password recommendations:

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides Digital Identity Guidelines that are quite detailed around password management best practices. The 79-page document can be downloaded free! If you don’t have the time to read the full document, here are the highlights:

  • Make passwords long and easy to remember but hard to guess
  • (Surprise!) Don’t require password expiry to force users to change their passwords every X days.

Many of us were taught that frequent password changes were an excellent security policy. To validate this, we asked the Spiceworks community about their password changing habits. Spiceworks is a community of IT professionals, many of whom are from small and medium businesses, so this perspective should prove valuable to small business owners. 

Passwords – when do you change them?

With a sample size of 196, we see that over half of the folks in the Spiceworks community change their passwords regularly, with only 6% never changing their passwords. It turns out a lot of small businesses are spending their valuable time and effort changing passwords, even though it isn’t considered a security best practice anymore!

Some of the survey comments were particularly interesting. Several people said, “it depends.”

A few respondents pointed out best practices recommendations, which apparently quite a few in this survey don’t follow:

But the reality is that a lot of folks in small businesses forget their passwords on a regular basis.

5G

There are now 19 cities across the nation where AT&T is the only carrier to offer mobile 5G service, and small businesses are leading the charge with 5G adoption.  These cities have been on our 5G network since late 2018, and are already seeing the promise of the network come to life.

With faster speeds and low latencies, businesses can find incredible new ways to interact with their customers, and improve their own business operations. From connecting new, unexpected things, to simply doing what they already do, but better.

We’ve said that 5G could bring us into the next industrial revolution – and small businesses are going to be at the tipping point.

SD-WAN NOW

SD-WAN is a technology that can address pain points of distributed workforces and the growth of cloud- based applications. Our new offer that’s geared specifically to small- to mid-sized businesses, SD-WAN NOW, is opening up the SD-WAN possibilities in a way that small businesses couldn’t easily tap into before.

This solution can give you more visibility into your network, so you can make smarter networking decisions. Like keeping your point of sale (POS) system on one transport, while customer’s web traffic goes through another. And of course, it’s all highly secure.

Free device setup and delivery

More often than not, small businesses are taking advantage of on-demand delivery services. We recently announced AT&T Ready to Go, which gives small business owners personalized delivery and expert setup for up to 5 new device orders, at no extra cost.

Customers experience the convenience of shopping online and confidence of our in-person delivery and setup from a trusted and trained expert, all in the comfort of their business or location of choice. This service makes sure your device works, your apps are synced, and your business is connected.

As we celebrate Small Business Week, there is a constant across every industry affecting businesses of all sizes. Change. Often, change is spurred by technology which can fuel not only business process improvements and productivity increases but also breakthrough business models which can completely disrupt seemingly successful organizations. Because of this, it’s imperative that small businesses keep an open mind to new ideas as well as a finger on the pulse of innovation. There are always opportunities to amplify and accelerate growth.