Burton Kelso, Tech Expert
How To Change Your Passwords on a Regular Basis
Updated: Feb 21, 2021
As a tech expert who daily helps people with computer and technology issues, one of the biggest issues I see people struggle with is using secure passwords and making sure they change their passwords on a regular basis. With all of the data breaches that have occurred since 2012, it's a good chance your user name and password information is on the dark web. Your online accounts store and give you access to a lot of sensitive and personal data. Keeping this data and all of your accounts safe and out of the hands of cybercriminals should be your top priority. Changing your passwords helps keep your accounts safe. Not sure why you should do it? Check out the following reasons.
Most of you reading this aren't aware that about 80% of all cybercrime involves stolen or weak passwords. When you read about personal and business emails, financial, and social media accounts being hacked, it's usually because a cybercriminal got access to your account information from phishing attacks or finding credentials on the web.
Here are the benefits of changing your passwords on a regular basis:
1. Prevents Credential Stuffing. Keeping those old passwords also puts you at risk for 'Credential Stuffing' which is the act of cybercriminals collecting your user names and passwords off the internet. They will then attempt to access all of your online accounts using your credentials. If one user name and password combination doesn't work, they will continue to 'stuff' your credentials until they are able to log into your accounts.
2. Limit Security Breaches to Multiple Accounts. Cybercriminals count on you to get lazy and use the same passwords for all of your online accounts. It makes it easy for you to remember only one password, but it also makes it simple for them to log into your accounts as well. Remember, in order to get access to most online accounts you just need a computer, smartphone, and tablet along with Internet access. Get into the habit of changing your password to something unique for each of your accounts. For example, do not use your Facebook password for your credit card accounts. Also, don't be tempted to use the "Sign in with Facebook' or Sign in with Google' options for online accounts that particular web sites offer for account sign-in options. You're essentially telling the online account to use the same password that you use for Facebook and Google.
3. Stops Access From Keystroke Loggers. Keystroke logging is a type of technology used to record your keystrokes on your devices. Usually, it is inadvertently downloaded from a malicious website and is designed to steal your login credentials to your accounts. Think of those times you've visited a web site and you were asked to download an extension or a program to enhance your experience on the web site. This is how Keystroke technology is installed on your computer. If you get into the habit of changing your passwords, it decreases the chance someone who has captured your password can use it to gain access to your accounts.
4. Prevents Continued Access To Your Accounts. If a hacker gets into your account, they will access your online accounts as long as they can get information from it. They will long into look at your banking history, continue to check up on emails on your web-based email accounts to get information, and will even check up on your social media accounts to see what personal information they can use against you. Also, if you lose your smart devices and computers, it is possible someone can get access to your passwords. If you consistently changing your password, this means that even if someone finds an old, saved password, it will no longer be useful.
Changing your passwords every 30-90 days is a good habit to get into to keep your passwords safe and secure. While you are changing them, you should consider upgrading your passwords and start using passphrase. A passphrase is two uncommon words put together to form a password. Samples of passphrases are 'stinkychicken!' and 'agilesquid#'. An excellent tool to use is Google's Password Checkup Extention which will check to see if any of the passwords you are currently using are being used by anyone else or on the dark web. You have to use Google Chrome as your browser to take advantage of this handy plugin. I also recommend that you enable 2 Factor authentication on all of your online accounts so you will know instantly if someone is trying to get unauthorized access to your accounts.
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