When was the last time you changed your personal password? Do any of your accounts share passwords, or have you shared your password with someone else? Regularly changing your passwords is a healthy security practice for your personal accounts, not just at work. Here are five signs it might be time to update your password.
1. It’s been a year since you last changed your password
If you have had an account for a long time, it is likely you have not changed your password recently. It may even be possible that you have the same password as when you first created your account. You are not alone – but you should also know that most experts recommend changing your password at least once a year.
Your experts at Data Evolution recommend setting a calendar reminder to change your passwords annually. This date could be your birthday, New Year’s Day, account anniversary, or an arbitrary day during the year.
It may be helpful to use this reminder to change all your passwords, such as your personal computer, work computer, email, shopping memberships, banks, and more. Remember: it is best to use different passwords for each account, especially for work versus personal accounts.
2. When your corporate policy requires password updates
In the past, many organizations required their employees to change their passwords every three to six months. More recently, this mentality has changed. Employers often allow people to keep their passwords longer and only require updates annually or even biannually.
At work, the frequency of password changing is usually dictated by the IT department or some corporate policy. Whatever the case, it can be a good reminder for you to update passwords on your personal accounts as well.
3. When your password security has been compromised
Your password security can be compromised in many different ways. You may have a password that is easy for hackers to brute force, someone who shares an account with you might get hacked, or a company that has your information might experience a security breach.
Even the most careful of us can be compromised sometimes. If you think or know that any of your accounts have been compromised, you should change your password and update any accounts that share the same or a similar password.
4. A large organization reports a security breach
Cyberattacks on large companies are more common than most people think. In 2020 alone, at least 1,001 data breaches were reported in the United States, affecting over 155.8 million individuals. Even the United States federal government experienced the worst series of data breaches in early 2020, affecting at least 200 organizations worldwide.
Keeping an eye on the news is good for your data security. If you see a large organization has been hacked, we recommend changing your password or all your passwords, especially if you had an account with the company that reported the breach.
5. You shared your information over text or email
Think back on any of your shared passwords. You may have sent information to a spouse, given your friend access to a streaming service, or shared your information for any number of other reasons. If you texted or emailed your password to someone, you should consider changing your password as soon as possible.
When you send written forms of digital communication, this information sits in those systems. If you or the person with whom you shared information gets hacked, your private information can be exposed. If you need to share your logins with someone, we recommend doing so over a phone call or in-person instead.
While password updates at work are usually required at regular intervals by corporate policy, many of us do not regularly change our personal account information. However, it is essential to remember that we can all potentially be targets for cybercriminals. Pay attention to these five signs that it might be time to change your password to maintain your digital health.