More businesses than ever realize that password security is an integral part of the game. If a company wants to succeed in today’s highly competitive digital economy, ensuring the effectiveness of its security infrastructure is critical. For organizations such as Esken, which operates in highly regulated industries such as aviation and renewables, security is crucial. Failure to protect sensitive data or network access points could have disastrous consequences.
Today, we’re taking the time for a sit down with David Mossop, head of group IT at Esken, to discuss the importance of password security and its effects on a company's overall cybersecurity posture. We’re also looking into how Esken was able to foster better password habits within the company and why that was the key in making the company stronger than ever cybersecurity-wise.
Esken: enabling people to travel, connect, and grow
Esken is one of those companies that you could say is cross-disciplinary. Essentially the company has three operating businesses:
Esken owns and operates London Southend Airport, an award-winning airport serving London and the South East. It has ambitious plans to grow and the key ingredients in place to enable that growth. London Southend Airport offers quick journey times to and through the airport, delivers an easy passenger experience and works to ensure everyone enjoys the airport.
Esken is a leading provider of global logistics operations ground handling and passenger and airside services for airports and airlines. The company simultaneously services London Southend Airport, Manchester Airport and London Stansted Airport.
Esken Renewables is the UK’s number one supplier of biomass fuel. It supplies around 1.7million tonnes of fuel to dedicated biomass plants across the UK. It receives waste wood from over 350 suppliers drawn from sectors such as the construction industry. Esken Renewables then processes that waste wood into biomass fuel and supplies it to biomass plants, based on long-term contracts.
The Aviation and renewables industries tend to struggle with password security
NordPass’s recent research of password habits of Fortune 500 companies found that even the top players in the aviation and renewables industries often lack proper password hygiene and struggle to maintain their first line of defense in the event of an attack.
NordPass’ research exposed the fact that professionals in the aviation and renewables industries frequently use “password” or “123456” as passwords to protect their online accounts. Both industries also share the same percentile of unique passwords, which stands at only 28%. These findings are alarming because both industries deal with large quantities of sensitive data and rely on a secure infrastructure to operate efficiently.
Cybersecurity at Esken – no shortcuts
Esken takes the no-nonsense, no shortcuts approach when it comes to cybersecurity. David Mossop explains the company’s approach by noting that whenever he needs to go across an airport, he needs to go through a thorough security check just like any other passenger would, and there are no exceptions even though he’s staff. There are no shortcuts in airports, he explains, and so the same kind of thinking is applied at Esken. The recent Colonial pipeline hack, which hit close to home for Esken, was another major reminder that failing to secure a company’s perimeter could have devastating consequences.
Because we operate in the aviation as well as renewables sector, we need to make sure that we follow appropriate legal protocols since we handle so much sensitive information. We look at it as a destination, not a journey, which is why we’re constantly trying to improve. We use a variety of tools and systems to ensure a secure business environment. We are strict when it comes to passwords. We do ask our team to use complex passwords and change them often. We are constantly evolving, learning new things. Personally, I’m doing security-related qualifications.
Head of Group IT at Esken
Mitigating password fatigue and overload at Esken
Because the industries that Esken operates in are highly regulated, and because security is a core company value, it is not surprising that even before adopting NordPass Enterprise, the company had strict password use and creation policies in place. However, Esken faced a problem familiar to most businesses today – password fatigue and overload, which eventually was a major factor in deciding that Esken needed a professional solution to satisfy its password security and management needs.
We do ask our employees to change their passwords very often. We also request that these passwords should be complex. However, what we’ve noticed is that now people tend to write these passwords down because they cannot remember them. Carrying passwords in a list was not a solution. That’s why we decided we need a password manager. Particularly NordPass. I was a personal user of NordPass myself, and then it made sense to look at NordPass Enterprise for the company.
Head of Group IT at Esken
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NordPass Enterprise: allowing employees to forget their passwords altogether
With the introduction of any tool to a company, there’s always a period for adopting the tool across the company for use. Due to the intuitive NordPass Enterprise user interface, the adoption is smooth and quick. Once Esken was done onboarding the team and everyone got familiar with the tool, password management and security were improved throughout the company. Now employees no longer have to create or remember complex passwords because NordPass does it all for them.
Securing accounts with complex, unique passwords is crucial, even if thousands of accounts at first glance seem not all that important. Because even if it’s not important, it doesn't mean it isn’t a route to something that is important. With NordPass, creating new strong passwords is quick and easy. The mobile app is fantastic. The ability to store credit cards and secure notes also comes in handy. And at the end of the day, thanks to NordPass, I forget about passwords and don’t remember them because they are too complex, so how can anyone else know them? You can torture me as long as you want, I can’t tell you my password because I don’t know what it is.
Head of Group IT at Esken
Want to discover the ways other companies tackle the challenges of password management and security? Well, simply visit our case studies page.