The Risks of Reusing Passwords on Multiple Sites

Risks of Reusing Passwords

In a world where uncertainties surround our everyday activities, it’s essential to be cautious of our every move. The internet, like most offline activities, is packed with different kinds of criminals. If not careful, most of your online activities could expose you to losses, some of which could directly impact your reputation.

While most online securities seem to focus on monetary losses, significant conversations are now shifting to why it’s happening – reusing passwords.

It is human nature to look for easier ways around every task. For example, most prefer to use similar passwords for several sites when operating numerous sites because it’s easier to remember.

While this may not be a point of concern for many, here are a few statistics that could change your perspective.

  • It is estimated that a computer is at risk of hacking every 39 seconds.
  • Of all the hacking-related breaches, 81% were due to compromised passwords.
  • Shocking enough is that a Google survey found that 52% of users reuse their passwords across multiple sites.
  • Most shocking is that 91% of those surveyed knew why reusing the same passwords is bad but did it anyway.
  • Those surveyed were, however, more cautious of the passwords in their financial and retail accounts. Their personal and entertainment sites had the weakest passwords.

Based on the above statistics, it’s clear why hackers have a field day when data breaches occur.

Just to confirm your fears, try entering your email addresses on haveibeenpwned.com to see the number of times your information has been exposed to data breaches. Chances are, if not you, then a friend or colleague has been exposed to massive breaches.

The Consequences of Using the Same Password Over and Over Again

If you are in the habit of reusing passwords, then getting out of it is not easy. This is especially so if you have numerous sites spread out across different platforms. For example, if you are required to share credentials to view an e-book on a website, then your first choice would be to use a password that you know.

But here’s the catch, what if the email, login, or password are the same as what you use on your bank account. Well, then this becomes an issue because in case of a hacking attempt on the initial website, then your sensitive information is at risk.

A cybercriminal with this information will primarily target most of your sites and render havoc on your operations. The consequences of this are a loss of money, time, and peace of mind when reverting your accounts to normalcy.

Also, reusing passwords rains terror on companies and brands that haven’t been keen on password security. Unfortunately, some of the significant risks of reusing passwords also affect companies that are well aware of the dangers.

An example in this category is information security companies. Even with 45% of information security personnel admitting to knowing the risks of reusing passwords, it’s still a habit that’s yet to die completely.

With businesses and individuals facing the risk of losing up to $4million every year due to leaked passwords and credentials, it’s only essential to learn how to keep accounts safe.

But first, let’s look at why most people reuse passwords even with all the risks associated with them.

Some Systems Make it Tedious to Create New Passwords

Here is a case in mind. You visit a website, and your first attempt at a password is to add a symbol. On your next attempt, you are prompted to add at least one lowercase, one uppercase, and a number.

If you are like most people, then it becomes tedious to figure out which characters are acceptable. Most probably, after a few tests, you will choose the easiest way out of the mess by reusing a password from your other sites. While you may get away with such a choice at the moment, the risks are pretty obvious.

But what if the visited website allowed special characters in their platforms. More importantly, what if they allowed you to create passwords in the best way you know how?

Well, their previous procedures may be for your best interest, but at times, the exception to unique characters and individual choices encourage the reusing of passwords.

The Repeat Mentality Blinds Rational Thinking

The idea of waking up one morning and not being able to remember your hundreds of passwords makes people use the same password over and over again. This also happens in public institutions where officials are afraid of not accessing essential data when it is most needed.

The reusing of passwords in government has opened opportunities for fraudsters. And the access to such delicate information has cost countries millions of dollars.

Private institutions are also bearing the brunt of reusing passwords to a hacker’s advantage. A good example is a report about Apple paying the Turkish Crime Family 401.731bitcoin to secure the information of the exposed accounts.

That being said, most of the reason hackers have access to this data is because of reused passwords. Think of it as the risk of having the same password for your iCloud and financial institution. The password repeat mentality eventually catches up with you and could cost you or your organization lots of money.

How to Manage Your Accounts Safely

The safety of your accounts depends on the applications you use for your passwords. Here are three applications that can limit access to your accounts.

1. Use the Two-Factor Authentication

Luckily, most sites are now offering two-factor authentication (2FA). With 2FA, your SMS service or email account acts as a second form of identification. This means that every time you, or someone else, tries to access a site from a new device or location, an SMS or email is sent to your registered account.

Another additional feature of 2FA is the temporary or one-off passcode. The passcode ensures that a hacker has little to no chance of accessing your sensitive data as long as the second factor is unavailable.

Apart from the 2FA, you can choose to strengthen your account security by using the authenticator app. The app is available mainly for Google and Microsoft accounts.

2. Enable Password Manager

If you haven’t been using the password manager, then you’ve probably been missing out on an excellent opportunity to boost your online safety. The best part about a password manager is that it can generate complex passwords for you. Even better is how it saves the passwords, so you don’t have to remember them every time.

The most exciting bit about a password manager is also that it is protected by one master password. This means that you only need to keep this key password in mind since it opens you to the other passwords. Having a password manager is a sure way of staying clear of reusing passwords on different websites.

Other Steps to Follow to Make Your Password More Secure

Apart from the applications or software mentioned above, other day-to-day practices can secure your accounts.

1. Delete Accounts You no Longer Use

Deleting dormant accounts gives you fewer passwords to worry about and fewer accounts to maintain. This enables you to keep tabs on any hack attempts and mitigate risks on time.

2. Check Passwords Continuously

This mainly applies to companies that carry out regular password updates. Before updating the passwords on official sites, ensure they aren’t compromised. It’s also important to emphasize the importance of unique and strong passwords to your team for every online site.

3. Ditch the Old Habits

Based on the Google Survey, it is estimated that 26% of users continued using old passwords even after reports of data breaches. Reluctance was one of the reasons for the behavior. If we are to get over the risks of reusing passwords, then old habits must die first.

4. Don’t Use Passwords on Unsecured Devices and Networks

Public Wi-Fi and shared computers are a threat to online security. Ensure access to sensitive accounts is only made through secure networks. If you must use public platforms, log off and don’t save passwords on the devices. Also, consider using a VPN to mask your computers’ IP address.

Conclusion

The first step to proper management of online accounts is by understanding the risk of reusing passwords. Though this habit may not die on the first try, creating unique passwords is the only sure way of keeping your sensitive information safe.

FAQs

How to keep track of passwords without reusing them?

The best way to keep track of your passwords is to use a password manager. A password manager stores your passwords in one place, so it’s easy to confirm the status at all times. Also, the automatic suggestions ensure you have unique passwords across different platforms.

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