Passwords are your first line of defense when it comes to keeping your information safe. The idea is that only you, the person with the password you set up, can log into whatever program or account it is protecting.
Nowadays, it seems like we have a million logins to keep track of. While it’s easier to make passwords to all these apps and programs the same or similar, that can get you into a lot of trouble.
Sharing is Not Caring when dealing with Passwords
Let’s say for example, you use the same password for your Netflix account as for logging into your work computer. You made it complex, so it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, right? Well, consider the risk: If someone were to obtain the password to your Netflix account, through a breach, for example, they could then use that password to get into your work computer.
Now they have direct access to your company’s systems and information.
Now they can steal data, install malware, access product information and client lists…all under your name and without triggering any alarms because they used your valid employee password.
That is a major issue and sort of a worst-case scenario. There are other ways, seemingly more innocent ways, that sharing passwords can cause trouble.
Unintended Side Effects of Password Sharing
For this example, let’s say you have computers at work that multiple people use. Maybe this is a reception area or a shared computer for part-time staff or a machine that different shifts log onto. It may seem efficient to create one user account and one password for all of those people to log into those computers.
While that is a huge security risk in itself (see above and multiply by as many people use this ‘central’ login), there is also a different way it can get you in trouble. If one person forgets the shared password, they will reset it. If that person fails to let the other users with the same login credentials know the password has changed, then when those people try to log on, they won’t be able to get in. Now each of those people will change the password again.
This creates a ripple effect to everyone who is trying to log in with those shared credentials. It also creates a loss in productivity because each person will need to contact IT to get into those shared computers.
Furthermore, how are these people communicating any password updates or changes? Are they sending the passwords through email, in texts, or by calling and letting each person write them down on whatever is handy? Is there a ‘master’ post-it note sitting under the keyboard? Every one of these possibilities is a threat to your company’s security.
In short, it is much easier and safer to have everyone set up with their own user ID and secure password.
For more ways to make your passwords protect you better, see Alex’s 3 tips.
And remember, sharing is not caring when it comes to passwords.