Take a moment to consider how many passwords you have online. Sure, there are the primary three or four that you use every day, but how many sites have you created accounts on? Online shopping, accounts associated with work, apps required for package delivery, and more are all things that require passwords.
All of those areas are vulnerable to digital attacks. The best way to maintain security is to change your passwords. That said, how often should you change your password?
We’re going to take a look at keeping your data safe today, exploring the idea of password maintenance. Let’s get started.
Why Do You Need to Change Your Passwords?
You might be thinking, “I have a strong password on all of my accounts, so there shouldn’t be any need to change them.”
Why change it?
While a strong password is essential for security maintenance, it’s important to take a look at how security breaches happen. In a lot of cases, one of the accounts you have will get hacked.
That data leak leads criminals to your other accounts, and those accounts are vulnerable if you’re using the same passwords or similar passwords. This is especially true if you tend to use common numbers or bits of information in your passwords.
For example, using the first four letters of your last name and the digits of your birthday is a pretty easy thing to decode. Further, it’s not usually the case that someone is sitting behind a desk, tinkering away at your potential password.
Data breaches come in large packages of information, and hackers usually access the areas where a big number of passwords exist for a particular website. In that case, your data gets served up on a platter.
It’s unfortunate that we can’t do much to avoid those situations. We can opt to only use the most reliable and secure websites, but even those get hacked sometimes.
How Often Should You Change Your Password?
Data breaches don’t often occur on the sites you use. It’s improbable that you’ll experience numerous hacks in a short period of time unless you have an exceptional number of accounts on vulnerable sites.
That said, any of the sites you use are vulnerable to attack at any time. It’s hard to know when one site has been breached, leaving your other accounts vulnerable.
In light of that risk, it’s smart to change your primary passwords every few months. The more often you change the password, the lower your risk of getting hacked. It’s unnecessary to change your password every week or every month, but getting around to it around once per season is a good way to stay ahead of the curve.
Fortunately, most websites will let you know if there’s been some kind of data breach. You’ll get an email or an alert letting you know that your data could have been compromised.
Another benefit is that services that manage numerous passwords tend to let you know when breaches occur and some let you know when shared passwords have been compromised. For example, you might get an alert that a password you use for numerous sites has been discovered on one of those sites.
Services like Google Drive or iCloud that link up with your phone should alert you if your saved passwords are vulnerable. There are some instances when you should always change your password, though.
Let’s take a look at those circumstances.
1. You’ve Been Hacked
When one of your devices or one of your accounts gets hacked, it’s time to do a full sweep of your passwords. Every new piece of information that a hacker gets might lead them to your other passwords, financial information, and personal information.
If there’s any sign that a data breach occurred, change any passwords that protect private information.
2. You Use Vulnerable Networks
A lot of people utilize public WiFi networks on a daily basis. Coffee shops, university networks, and more are all great ways to get work done on the fly.
That said, those networks are more vulnerable because they’re public. If you’re someone who uses a lot of public networks, you should change your passwords more often than you would otherwise.
If this is the case for you, it’s also a good idea to make sure that you have additional security. The aforementioned services that manage your passwords are a good start. You could also invest in better security for your devices.
3. You Do a Lot of Online Shopping
The holidays expose just how many times we need to log financial information into different websites. The same is true if you’re someone who orders a lot of food, pays for numerous subscriptions, or manages their businesses online.
It adds up really fast. It’s not uncommon for someone to have thirty or forty-odd accounts floating around at any given time. Those are vulnerabilities that can be managed.
Make sure that you don’t use the same or similar passwords on these sites. That’s rule number one. Use a password manager or a service that helps you keep track of various passwords.
Ensure that they’re all distinct from one another. Another thing you can do is delete those accounts right after you use them. Unless you use the same site for deliveries every day, you don’t need to keep those accounts active.
Order deliveries as a “guest” or take five extra minutes to create an account each time. A full data breach is not worth the few rewards points and discounts that you might get from an active Dominos account.
Hackers get access to your bank accounts, your municipal bills, and more. If you share your devices with other individuals, those people are put at risk as well. Cleaning up that mess takes a lot longer than it takes to delete an arbitrary account after you order something.
Want to Learn More About Security Maintenance?
So, how often should you change your password? The answer depends on who you are, but you can certainly make things easier on yourself by having unique passwords and removing excess accounts.
There’s more to learn about data security, though. We’re here to help. Explore our site for more ideas on keeping your data safe and ensuring that you and your family don’t have to suffer the damage of a data breach.