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Tip of the Week: Why Routinely Changing Your Password Isn't Always a Good Idea

Tip of the Week: Why Routinely Changing Your Password Isn't Always a Good Idea

We've been told for years it’s best to routinely change your passwords. That way, if a password were stolen, it would lose its value when the user goes to change it. While this sounds logical, new research shows that sometimes it may actually be better NOT to change your passwords.

This may be a hard pill to swallow for IT administrators who have always required users to change their passwords every few months or so. However, as this practice could make accounts less secure, it’s worth considering the following:

When users go to change their password, they’re often rushed or annoyed and end up creating a new password that’s less secure. According to The Washington Post, “Forcing people to keep changing their passwords can result in workers coming up with, well, bad passwords.”

Think about it, how often have you changed your password, only to change it from a complex password to one that’s easier to remember? Or, have you ever kept the same password and just added a number at the end of your new password? This covert move will do little to deter a hacker. Carnegie Mellon University researched this topic and found that users who felt annoyed by having to change their password created new passwords that were 46 percent less secure.

Plus, let’s consider the hypothetical situation of a hacker actually stealing your password. Truth be told, once they’ve gotten a hold of your login credentials, they’ll try to exploit the password as soon as they are able. If they’re successful, they’ll pose as you and change the account’s password, thus locking you out of it. In an all-too-common situation like this, the fact that you’re scheduled to change your password at the end of the month won’t change anything.

Additionally, ZDNet noted yet another way that regularly changing passwords can make matters worse: “Regularly changed passwords are more likely to be written down or forgotten.” Basically, having a password written down on a scrap piece of paper is a bad security move because it adds another way for the credentials to be lost or stolen.

Whether you do or don’t ask employees to change their passwords is your prerogative. However, moving forward it would be in everybody’s best interest to focus on additional ways to secure your network, instead of relying solely on passwords. This can be done by implementing multi-factor authentication, which can include SMS messaging, phone calls, emails, and even biometrics with passwords. With additional security measures like these in place, it won’t matter much if a hacker stole your password because they would need additional forms of identification to make it work.

To maximize your company’s network security efforts, contact SMART Services at 586 258-0650 .

Let Smart Services position your agency for tomorrow’s technological challenges. For 25 years, Smart Services has helped agencies across the U.S. face a changing environment by providing innovative technology solutions that allow agencies to focus on growing their business. MyAgency Cloud, our complete cloud solution, covers all your technology needs in the cloud or at your agency. In today’s competitive environment, it’s time to make your agency technology a strategic asset, instead of a liability. Let us show you how. To learn more, please call our expert agency technology advisor at 586-258-0650.

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