Dymin Blog

How Often Should I Change My Passwords?

Posted by Mike Hurt on Oct 31, 2016 10:06:00 AM

 man with tablet mobile phone entering login and password

Just like having a quality lock on your front door, a strong password is an essential part of preventing unauthorized access to your personal online data. But you may be confused as to how often you should change your password in order to maintain the highest level of internet security and keep your data safe. Maybe you’ve heard that you should change your password every month (or more), but this is actually not necessary! In fact, IT professionals now recommend that you don’t change your password frequently! What’s going on?

 

Frequent Password Changes = Weaker Passwords

A good, strong password has at least 8 characters, including all four types (lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters like @ or !). One of the biggest risks of systems that require changing passwords frequently is that users will develop simpler, easy-to-guess passwords (like these 25 most popular passwords of 2015). Or, they will use ones that follow a predictable pattern (for example, “1Password!” followed by “2Password!”). Passwords that are easy to guess are more likely to allow hackers to access your data or improperly gain access to your network systems. Some good free sites let you test out the strength of your passwords before you set them.

Another risk is that if users do change their passwords to challenging, hard-to-remember passwords, they will forget them—or worse, they will store them in an unsecure location.

 Laptop computer with post-it sticky note

Keeping your password on a Post-it note on your computer or elsewhere in your office significantly reduces your computer security!

 

So, How Often Should I Change My Password?

Obviously, all passwords aren’t equally important. It isn’t really necessary to change your login to things like hotel loyalty programs or online forums unless you’ve had a problem. If you share common accounts, however, like access to subscription-based blogs or image websites, it may be prudent to change your password periodically because of the increased chance it may be compromised and to ensure that only people who should still be authorized continue to have access to the accounts.

Other websites, like your bank account, financial websites, and email access, require you to be much more vigilant about security. If you haven’t experienced any unauthorized access or security issues, you should change each of these vital passwords about every 6-12 months to a new, strong password. Make sure you don’t use the same password for all of these accounts. If you have trouble remembering passwords, you can use a password manager like LastPass

If you have experienced an unauthorized breach or internet security issue, you should change your password immediately. These security issues could include a virus, hacking incident, or scam. Or, you may receive an email, letter, or legal notification from your bank or other service provider that its files were hacked and your data has potentially been compromised.

Never provide your account information or enter your password in response to an email or by clicking through a link in an email, even if it looks like it's from a legitimate company; this could be a scam or a form of phishing (an attempt by an unauthorized party to fraudulently obtain your data). Navigate directly to sites that you trust using a secure internet connection and enter your login information securely.

 

Following good password and internet safety practices can enable you to better protect your online data and prevent the headache and expense of dealing with hacking or fraud. Dymin Systems can help you make sure that your personal and business security practices are up to date and optimally effective. Contact us today to arrange an in-home service consultation, set up a remote tech support session, or invite us to your workplace to talk about increasing your business security. Or visit our impressive Urbandale, Iowa, showroom of computer parts, accessories, software, and systems for an in-store consultation about your computer’s performance and security with our professional IT staff.

 

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Topics: computer security, computer maintenance