Discover how often you should change your password for optimal security
November 23, 2023
Gone are the days of sticky note password lists. With increasingly sophisticated cyber threats comes the need to robustly secure your accounts with complex strings of symbols and numbers. But as important as creating unique passwords is, knowing how often to change your password is also crucial. Using the same keyphrase for a long time increases the chance stubborn hackers can guess the code. Instead, explore the most important security best practices regarding password management and discover how security super apps like IronVest can further elevate your digital security and data safety measures.
Common methods hackers use to access your passwords
Passwords are the first defense against unauthorized access to personal and professional data. But keycode-cracking methods continuously evolve. Here are a few standard methods.
Phishing attacks, often in the form of deceptive emails or messages, appear as if they're from trusted sources. You might receive an email that looks like it's from your bank, asking you to click a link and log in with your credentials. But this link directs you to a fraudulent website designed to steal your information.
Brute force attacks
Hackers use software programs to guess passwords through endless combinations, which is particularly effective against simple keyphrases.
Keyloggers are often hidden within free software downloads or email attachments. Once installed, they record every keystroke — including passwords — and return this information to the attacker. Downloading a seemingly harmless game or app might contain a keylogger that tracks your typing.
Public WiFi breaches
Public WiFi networks, such as at coffee shops or airports, are often unsecured, which allows hackers to intercept the data you transmit over the network — including login credentials. To enhance security, consider using a VPN when accessing your accounts over public networks.
Social engineering tactics
This tactic involves tricking people into revealing passwords in person, over the phone, or online. Someone might call you pretending to be from your IT department, asking for your password to “fix” an account issue.
Reusing passwords across different sites can lead to multiple accounts being compromised from a single breach. If a hacker gains access to one account and you've used the same password elsewhere, they can easily access others.
Malware and spyware
Criminals might install malware on your computer without your knowledge, often through infected websites or email attachments. And spyware — a type of malware — can log your passwords and other sensitive information.
When to change your password: Key moments and factors
The notion of changing passwords at regular intervals is outdated. Instead, the strength and circumstances surrounding each password determine its lifespan.
Here’s when you should change passwords:
Following a data breach notification: If a service you use reports a breach — and especially if your credentials are found on the dark web — change your password immediately.
After sharing your password: When sharing any personal code, change it as soon as the need for sharing ceases to mitigate unauthorized access.
If you observe unusual account activity: Unrecognized logins or strange account activities are red flags. Change your password promptly to secure your account.
Post-device or service transition: Change your passwords after you stop using a device or service to ensure any saved passwords aren’t misused.
When a password is simple or commonly used: If your password is easy to guess or widely used, update it to a more complex one.
The drawbacks of too-frequent password changes
Frequent password changes, a standard security recommendation, aren’t always the best strategy. Changing codes too often might motivate you to choose weaker, more predictable ones to avoid continuously remembering complex keyphrases.
This practice can also instill a false sense of security. You might overlook other critical security measures, like enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) or monitoring account activities, believing frequent password changes suffice for solid protection.
And practically, this approach is often challenging. Regularly updating passwords across various accounts is time-consuming and can lead to password fatigue. This exhaustion might result in security lapses, where you either opt for simpler passwords or fail to keep track of the latest ones.
In light of these factors, a balanced approach to password management is more effective, where you consider both password strength and situational awareness over the frequency of changes.
How secure is my password? 6 strategies for robust data security
Knowing how to create a strong password is critical to your digital security strategy. Here’s how to change your password so that it’s actually secure:
Create complex passwords: Combine letters, numbers, and symbols to create passwords that are difficult to guess.
Use a password manager: Browser-extension password managers securely store and manage every code. These tools can also generate strong, random passwords, simplifying the maintenance of distinct keyphrases for each account.
Enable 2FA: Wherever possible, set up 2FA so people must provide two or more forms of authentication, such as a text code and biometric data.
Conduct regular password audits: Periodically review your passwords to identify and update weak or reused items.
Craft strategic security questions: Choose questions with answers that aren't easily guessable or publicly known.
Leverage biometric security features: IronVest provides a unique all-in-one biometric account protection solution, using features like fingerprinting and facial recognition to protect your accounts.
Introducing IronVest: Your official password manager protector
Proper password management is time-consuming and never-ending work — but you don’t need to tackle it alone. IronVest offers a biometrically secured, user-friendly platform that goes beyond general password protection. Our decentralized blockchain infrastructure guards against password theft and hacked accounts, ensuring the utmost safety for your sensitive data.
Get IronVest today and enjoy immediate peace of mind, knowing all online accounts are safe and sound.