Many security experts and some guidelines suggest that we should change our passwords frequently. While good security practices are worth following, everyone knows of the frustration and annoyance that occurs when a notification pops up requesting a change of account password for security reasons.
Why You Should Change Passwords Regularly
The debate around the benefits of frequently changing passwords has been around for a long time, and there are pros and cons to doing so. Many security experts agree that increasing the frequency of password changes increases account security as it reduces the window when cyber criminals can have to access your account should your details be hacked in some way.
The Drawbacks of Changing Passwords Too Frequently
While corporations and businesses may have their own rules for its employees, the focus here is on everyday users for online accounts. As such, everyone should ask themselves two basic questions before applying a personal password policy:
- Will changing the password frequently actually increase security?
- How does this impact the user (you)?
Studies across all industries have shown that instead of strengthening it, frequent password changes reduce security. The reason is simple: humans tend to re-use the same password, or variations thereof, across multiple accounts and that makes the password-cracking process easier.
Below we will take a look at how frequently you should change the password for the most popular services that play important roles in daily life. There are of course guidelines worth following but a healthy amount of personal control is always recommended when it comes to password-changing policies: in some cases it makes sense to change them frequently while in others it does not, and often the decision comes down to your own preferences.
How Often Should You Change the Master Password?
The master password is the key to all your data stored in a password manager, so it makes sense not to change it at all. Here is why:
- A memorable and cryptographically secure master password is the best way to protect your data. It may be a hard process for many to come up with a strong master password, but that also makes it hard to crack.
- Changing the master password means you'll need to relearn the new one. Usually that will take a few days with a truly secure password, and that’s hassle you want to avoid because it only adds another stress factor onto your daily workflow.
Change the master password only if you are using a weak one, otherwise just leave it as it is – a suitably secure password will stop any hacker from brute-forcing their way into your password manager anyway.
How Often Should You Change Your Facebook Password?
As often as you are comfortable with. The best way to protect your Facebook account is to enable two-factor authentication. Still, keep in mind that SMS codes aren't considered secure due to a flaw in how the cellular networks work, so use a third-party authentication app such as Google Authenticator or LastPass.
How Often Should You Change Your Wi-Fi Network Password?
If you are installing a new router, then change the default password immediately and customize the network name at the same time. Use a cryptographically secure password and encryption so you can take the bother of regular password changing off your mind. It's recommended to use a password manager to store these credentials, especially if you already need to deal with an abundance of passwords. Change the password at will, but you don't have to do it every six months.
How Often Should You Change Your Windows/macOS Password?
Like with every device used in public places where others (such as coworkers) can eavesdrop, it is recommended to change your account password from time to time. Security experts say it's good to change these passwords every three months but it is up to you to decide if you are comfortable with this timeframe. If the computer is only used at home, then there’s no need to consider changing it.
How Often Should You Change Your Online Banking Password?
Financial institutions will usually prompt users to change their online banking passwords if you haven't done so within the company’s preferred policy period. Always use two-factor authentication if available and ask for SMS or push notifications for every transaction that is made. This way you can easily identify unauthorized transactions. If the bank doesn't prompt for a new password within a year, then it's a good idea to do it yourself and store the new one within a password manager.
How Often Should You Change Your Apple ID Password?
If you have two-factor authentication (2FA) enabled, then no one without physical access to your device can access your account without the piece of information displayed on the trusted device. If you can’t enable 2FA, either change the password from time to time (every year) or use another second layer of security available such as two-step verification.
How Often Should You Change Your Google Password?
The frequency of a password change is also influenced by the data it protects. Enable two-factor authentication with Google to make your account more secure and reduce the stress of frequent password changes. Otherwise it is recommended to change the password every year.
The Best Way to Change Passwords Quickly
Coming up with a secure password can be a challenge after a while, but this is where password management applications are of great help. They don't only reduce the burden of memorizing unique passwords, but they also keep track of the authentic URL for sites that you are registered with, keeping track of any usernames and passwords you sign in with.
On top of that, password managers have features that know how old those passwords are and their security level. This piece of the puzzle helps users stay informed on the status of their passwords and if the user considers a password change to be a must, then it is possible to get it done with just a single click – even with multiple passwords at once.
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