Passwords protect your accounts (hopefully backed up by two-factor authentication whenever possible) so it’s critical that they’re as strong as possible.
One way of doing that is to never reuse passwords and always use unique passwords.
Re-used passwords are insecure passwords
If you have the same password for your social media, your bank, and your email address, you’re essentially sharing the risk across all those accounts. If a hacker or criminal figures out that one password, they’ll have access to three of your most important accounts. And finding that one password may not be as difficult as you think.
Data breaches spread risk
Data breaches are dangerous not because accounts from a single source are leaked, it’s because that information can be used elsewhere. Password data leaked from breaches are collected, aggregated, and shared amongst criminal hackers, letting them feed the data to automated tools and giving them a better understanding of how people create passwords. There have been countless reports on what the most common passwords are – that’s only known because of data breaches.
These data breaches also commonly associate passwords with email addresses. Because people commonly reuse passwords, that email and password combination can be tried on different accounts and may succeed.
Why unique passwords work
Unique passwords make the task of figuring out your password for a single account extremely difficult. If you make your password unique enough, it will never be found in a data breach (because you’ve never reused it) and even tools that try combinations of letters and numbers to figure out a password will take a long time to inevitably figure out your password.
If it’s that hard to crack your password, a scammer or criminal is likely to move onto a different target with worse password security.
Easy ways to use unique passwords
We understand that it’s a tall order to ask you to use a unique password on every single account. This may also backfire and cause you to revert to worse password behaviors. How often do you reset a newly created password? You might also forget which unique password was used on which account. These small frustrations not only waste time, they also might lead you to reuse a password or use a more common password, once again putting your accounts at risk.
In order to ensure you’re using unique passwords and keeping your accounts secure, here are some tips to make it easier for you.
Use Them On Key Accounts
Using a unique password on each of your accounts can get overwhelming and take a lot of time. To start off, we recommend making sure your unique passwords are at least on the accounts that matter most. These would include your bank account, email, cloud storage, social media accounts, and e-commerce sites that store your credit card.
Using passphrases is a technique you can use to ensure your passwords are unique and complex. Instead of creating passwords out of a single word or a string of letters and numbers, passphrases are created out of several words. This makes them even more unique and much longer, which is an important quality in strong passwords.
Use a password manager
A password manager is designed to create and store complex passwords for you so you don’t have to go through the effort of making unique passwords for all of your accounts and remembering them all. Password managers are also our recommendation if you really want to take passwords seriously. They make securing your accounts much easier.
2FA, or two-factor authentication, lets you use an additional form of authentication (such as your phone) to log into your account after you’ve entered your password. This will stop nearly all automated attacks even if a hacker does know your password, because they won’t have that additional form of authentication. This is slightly more advanced than making strong passwords but it’s incredibly impactful.
Passwords are all about account security
Remember, your passwords are all about keeping your accounts safe and keeping unwanted people out. It’s absolutely worth taking the time and effort to make sure your accounts are much more difficult to get into than the average person’s as that’s what will keep scammers and criminals out.