How often should you update your passwords for optimal security?
It all starts with good password habits. Remember your good password criteria when you’re creating your next password.
When’s the last time you updated your passwords? Are you still using your high school password? The one that goes something like this: “Ilovestacy1991”.
Yeah, I thought so. If you’re like most people, you’ve used the same or a very similar password for a long time now—years even—despite the very real threat that recycling and not updating passwords pose to your online security. Something as simple as a password can be all that stands between a cybercriminal and your information.
Updating passwords might be exhausting work, but it’s a necessity that not enough people understand the significance of. But how often should you change your password for optimal security? In this guide, we’ll discuss the importance of passwords, how to create better passwords, and why and when to change them.
Why Change It At All?
As long as you’re using a unique and complex password, there should be no reason to change it, right? Well, yes and no. You’ll still need to change it at least once per year just to be safe, but you don’t need to constantly change it so long as it truly is complex and unique, and meets the following criteria:
- A unique combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols
- No common phrases or words that can be found in the dictionary
- No self-identifying (or company-specific) information like birthdays, addresses, etc.
- Longer than 11 characters. Longer passwords are more secured
- Not a duplicate password from your other account(s)
When you change your next password, keep these criteria in mind. The more complex your password is, the more difficult it will be to crack. A random combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols that’s at least 11 characters long can take a computer thousands of years to crack. If you use common dictionary phrases, you’re more vulnerable to a dictionary attack, which literally scans the password for words and phrases from the dictionary.
The bottom line is that changing your password is just one part of your overall password security.
Stay One Step Ahead
Old passwords are always more vulnerable, and potentially already compromised if they’re too old. Passwords that are over one year old should be changed immediately. The best way to keep your information safe and private is to stay one step ahead of the hackers. They’re always looking for vulnerabilities, and using outdated passwords is like handing them a ticket to your bank account.
Some experts say you should change your password at least every 90 days, but let’s be honest—not many of us are keeping track of time like that just to change our passwords. That’s why you need a password manager.
The best password manager for you is whichever one fits both your budget and your cybersecurity needs. If you’re running a business, obviously, you’ll need something different than the average individual. There are plenty of free password keepers out there that are far more secure than the browser password managers you get with programs like Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.
Password managers are some of the simplest but most effective cybersecurity tools available today. You can generate, store, secure, and manage your passwords in the software at the touch of a button. Many password managers also include mobile options, so you can always have your passwords within arm’s reach.
Take Care Of Your Passwords
Your passwords are the first line of defense for your personal data, so it’s crucial that all of us start taking them more seriously. A good password isn’t impenetrable, but it’s certainly more effective at defending your accounts than a bad one. It’s up to all of us to take care of our own individual cybersecurity needs in order to create a more secure internet overall.
Change Those Old Passwords
Now that you understand why you need to change old passwords, it’s time to get moving! Get those passwords changed right away, and use a password manager to organize, secure, and track passwords. Some password managers will even notify you when you’re using an old or duplicated password.
Password managers usually cost just a few dollars per month, and you’ll increase your cybersecurity tenfold for the price of a week’s worth of morning coffee. That sounds like a pretty good deal, don’t you think?
Cybercrime is a threat to us all. That being said, we all need to pitch in to make the web a more secure place overall. It all starts with good password habits. Remember your good password criteria when you’re creating your next password.
Use your password manager’s password generator feature to make sure you’re creating the best possible password. And, most importantly of all, never use a duplicate password or share your passwords. Yes, that means your Netflix password, too.