An excellent article on how to protect passwords and other credentials is highlighted in the January 2015 TechNet Security newsletter

January 2015 – TechNet Security newsletter
https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/security/cc307424.aspx 

Credential Theft and How to Secure Credentials
https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/security/dn920237

 

And above all, start  treating your credentials like you do your underwear. Change  them frequently. Never share them. Never leave them lying  around. And they should be sexy. Oh   wait… you are in IT, so maybe not. Let’s go for they should be mysterious and hard to figure out. And the longer the better. Especially on those cold nights when you are called in to deal with unauthorized access because someone else didn’t follow this advice.