Every online account you have — from your work email to your social media pages — has a password. Like door locks, passwords protect your digital property by denying access to unauthorized entities.
But passwords can be difficult to manage. According to NordPass, an average person has about 70–80 passwords. That is a lot of information to handle, so it’s no surprise that people tend to forget some of them, especially rarely used ones.
To simplify password management, some people select passwords that are easy to remember. However, doing so puts data at risk. A simple password might be easy to memorize, but it’s also easy to crack. Through a brute force attack, a hacker can guess a weak password combination in seconds.
Aside from using simple passwords, here are other mistakes you should avoid:
About 51% of users use the same passwords for both their work and personal accounts. This is called password recycling or using one password for multiple accounts. While this considerably lessens the number of passwords a person has to remember, it can also compromise their data. When their email account is hacked, for instance, cybercriminals can get into their other accounts that use the same password.
Instead of recycling passwords, create similar ones that are just as easy to remember. Rather than using “iloveyou” — which ranks eighth on SplashData’s top 50 worst passwords list — use semantically related phrases combined with numbers and special symbols, such as “$oloved143” or “ILOVEU_4ever!”.
Leaving passwords in conspicuous places
Some people write their passwords down on paper, which they keep somewhere handy. This is a major no-no since you never know who will come across the information. Even if you trust the people around you, you can’t be sure that they won’t accidentally divulge your information or use your password for their own gain. Password cheat sheets may also get lost, misplaced, or fall into the wrong hands.
Password managers like Google Password Manager or Dashlane can help you store your passwords securely. Using these tools, you won't need to write down or memorize a password ever again; you just need to remember the master password.
Storing passwords in plain text
Some users opt to store their passwords in their devices instead of writing them down on paper. However, storing passwords in plain text is just as risky as leaving them in plain sight. Anyone who gets access to the file that contains your passwords will be able to access your accounts.
As such, you should encrypt your passwords to make them unreadable to anyone who doesn't have the decryption key. That way, a malicious entity that gets a hold of your password won't be able to do anything with it.
According to Google, 43% of adults in the United States have shared their passwords with a partner or a family member. They usually share passwords to entertainment platform accounts, like Netflix or Hulu. But while sharing accounts might seem practical, it involves cybersecurity risks.
Passwords are like secrets; the more people know about them, the more likely they are to be disclosed. The bottom line is that you should never share your user credentials with another person. If there’s no choice but to share an account with a family member, make sure to use a unique password that you don’t already use for your email, banking, and other online accounts.
Changing passwords often for no reason
Some apps set password expiration dates to force users into changing their passwords regularly, but new research suggests that doing so has no real cybersecurity impact. It could even be counterproductive: if people are required to change their passwords every so often, they might resort to recycling them.
Only change passwords after a security incident, such as when an app you use releases a statement about a data breach compromising its users’ passwords. Between constantly changing passwords and creating strong ones, choose the latter.
Password protection is just one area covered by SpectrumWise’s seven layers of security. If you’re running a business in North Carolina, schedule a FREE consultation with our business technology specialists to discover how we can keep your data safe and sound. Call us at 704-703-9990, or send us a message today.