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Why you shouldn’t use the same password

It seems like every week there’s another official report about the majority of computer users still not taking care of themselves online. If you’re reading this, however, you’re probably already ahead of most of them. This week, we’re going to talk about passwords.

According to research by the UK government’s communication regulators (Ofcom), 55% of internet users endanger themselves online by using the same password for most (and sometimes all!) of their online accounts.

In computer security terms, this is considered a very bad idea. After all, if someone manages to get your password, they could then use that to access all of your other online accounts. And while not telling anyone your password will guarantee you some safety, there are still many ways that people can steal it from you.

For example, malware and keyloggers accidentally downloaded from the internet can steal your password. And most of the time – unless you have virus protection – you won’t even realise you’ve been infected.

However, even if you have the latest and best viruses protection, it won’t protect your passwords 100%, because the bad guys can hack into the web service you’re using and steal your password directly from there. Ouch.

Once the criminals have your password, they’ll be able to impersonate you on that service and – if your passwords are the same – all your other accounts. This is particularly bad for your email account, as unless you’ve deleted them, email inbox will contain sign-up information from the other websites you’ve signed up for.

Essentially, your inbox is like a directory of places for the criminals to pretend to be you.

If you can’t be bothered to change all of your internet passwords to be unique (we’ve all thought this at one point), then you must just make sure your email password is different to all your other ones, otherwise you could be in serious trouble.

Picking Passwords

When choosing a password, try to avoid obvious ones. It sounds simple, but Ofcom also discovered that 26% of users create their passwords based on their birthday, place of birthday or even their name.

Using these details gives potential hackers an easy ride, as if they’ve already got your name, they might be likely to try a combination relating to these to access your account. After all, 26% of users do use something as obvious as this.

It’s also vitally important to avoid words that appear in the dictionary, because hackers have programs that can automatically try any word in the dictionary against your username. This is why many loin services now demand that you use a number or a symbol in your password.

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