top of page

Are Your Passwords Leaving Your Digital Life Wide Open?

Mac laptop on login screen.

Long before the pandemic, large banking institutions saw a massive surge in online activity, ranging from 55 - 69% of new account applications being completed online.

But it’s not just banking. Internet analysts have found that the average American internet user has 130 accounts assigned to a single email address!

We don’t know about you, but memorizing that many complex and unique passwords is way too much for our aging brains, you’re probably re-using the same passwords over and over.

In fact, over 60% of Google users admit to using the same passwords over multiple accounts, and to make matters worse, the most commonly used password in 2022 was literally “password.”

Let this sink in. We're talking accounts that hold financial information, private details of your life, and e-commerce data; the unencrypted kind. No shame, we understand - sometimes our brains just need an easy win!

Even if you are savvy enough not to use “password” for your online accounts and try to switch it up for each, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security, as online attacks are becoming increasingly common and could cause you months or years of headaches and loss to untangle.

A False Sense of Security for Internet Users

You might think that unsafe password management habits are most rampant amongst the older generation who we perceive as less aware of the threats to online security.

However, researchers have found that even with an increase in cybersecurity education, what experts refer to as “password hygiene” has not improved, leaving many with a wide open digital life, vulnerable to attack.

Pro digital organizer working at SurroundUs.

In fact, poor password habits span all generations of internet users, which analysts have attributed to a false sense of internet security.

There is, however, great cause to shore up your online security. The most recent statistics on cyber crime show:

  • Nearly 1 billion emails were exposed in a single year, affecting 1 in 5 internet users.

  • Data breaches cost businesses an average of $4.35 million in 2022.

  • Around 236.1 million ransomware attacks occurred globally in the first half of 2022.

  • 1 in 2 American internet users had their accounts breached in 2021.

Since nearly 81% of these attacks are caused by weak or re-used passwords, developing an intentional approach to managing your online account passwords is more crucial than ever.

Secure Your Digital Life by Improving Password Habits

Here are a few considerations from our pro tech experts on how you can improve your password hygiene and better secure your digital life:

Create Secure Passwords

The first thing to consider in managing your online accounts effectively is to create unique and secure passwords, especially for your most sensitive accounts (ex. online banking, medical information, financial records, etc). We know you've probably heard this before, but we can't reiterate it enough.

iPhone note containing digital account password.

A strong password is one that is difficult for others to guess, but easy for you to remember. Some best practices are:

  • Use a combination of letters, cases, numbers, and symbols.

  • Use a passphrase that is easy for you to remember, but difficult for others to guess such as “myC@tlikes2chaseyarn$”

  • Avoid common words, phrases, or personal information (12345, or password)

  • Use at least 12 characters

Manage Passwords Effectively

Once you have created secure passwords for each online account, it’s important to manage them effectively so that you don't get locked out. There's nothing more frustrating than having to move through the reset password process with each login attempt! Here's how:

  • Enlist the help of a password management tool that can help you generate and store strong passwords. A few popular services we like include platforms like Bitwarden, Dashlane, and 1Password, but there are plenty of available password managers to compare, each with its strengths and shortcomings.

  • Use unique passwords for each account. If one password is compromised, every account for which you use that password will also be at risk. For example, consider if your main email account was compromised; every other online account tied to this email address would suddenly be vulnerable, as a hacker could run a password reset for each. Yikes!

  • Think about changing your passwords regularly, especially for your most sensitive accounts. Make this a quarterly habit that is set into your schedule.

Woman working on laptop with an iPhone close by.

Securing Your Password Storage

If you use passwords, it makes sense to keep your credentials stored in an online password manager. Otherwise, keeping it all straight becomes seemingly impossible. But just like a real safe can protect your priceless heirlooms and documents, you need to make sure your digital safe is secured at all times.

  • Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible, especially for your online password manager. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification, such as a code sent to your phone, in addition to your password.

  • Encrypt your password storage. Some password managers offer encryption to keep your passwords safe.

  • Use strong security questions. If you need to answer security questions, use answers that are difficult for others to guess.

Final Thoughts

Despite the fact that we're constantly being asked to create more complex and longer passwords, they are ultimately our first line of defense.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a ‘perfect' password. Hackers have become increasingly creative in the methods they use to crack passwords and the best way to combat this is by using several different authentication factors across our different accounts.

People have fought for years to regain control of their information when some basic password security measures could have prevented the attack in the first place.

If your password hygiene has already fallen by the wayside for too long, you may not have the time to get yourself back on track. If this sounds like you, or you want to learn more about password management services, consider having a conversation with our friendly tech pros who can suggest the best platforms or services and help assess your online security needs.

32 views0 comments