How many people know your password? Further to that, how many other people’s passwords do you know? We don’t even mean the one you use to access your bank – letting someone know your login details could land you in a whole heap of trouble.
A Government-funded cybersecurity programme is warning young people about the dangers of ‘re-data-ships’, after revealing that 45% of those surveyed admit to sharing passwords and PINs with boyfriends and girlfriends.
Young people are especially at risk when it comes to inappropriately sharing personal data online. A study by YouGov shows that 20% of 18-24 year-olds said they would feel comfortable sharing their date of birth to an organisation they didn’t know. For 45-54 year-olds, the figure was just 8%.
Why it can be dangerous
You may think you’re only giving someone access to your Netflix account when you share your password, but it could help someone log into your email, online banking or social media accounts. Relationships can come to an end, so it’s wise to keep your personal data private. Someone using your log in details without permission is identity theft, and could have serious consequences.
Advice from Cyber Aware warns that if the password you shared with someone is the same or similar to the one you’re using on your email, it’s possible that someone could use it to gain entry to all sorts of accounts. Often the way that sites verify your identity when you request to change your password is to send an email. If they have enough information, they could change the email address associated with the account and essentially block your access to it in the future.
Cybersecurity expert, James Lyne, says: “Young people are taught about things like ‘stranger danger’ from a young age, but often we concentrate so much on our ‘enemies’ that we forget to think about our friends and partners, particularly when it comes to staying safe online.”
What can you do if your current or ex-partner knows your passwords
Once you’ve realised someone else knows your password or PIN, there are a few things you should do straight away:
- Change your passwords – try not to make it too similar to your old one.
- If someone knows your PIN change it as soon as you can. You can change your PIN at a cash machine, or get in contact with your bank or credit card provider. Don’t choose a PIN that is an obvious sequence, or a birthday (of you or somebody close to you), it’ll make it easy to guess.
- See if your account has been logged in anywhere unusual. Many sites will tell you the location and operating system of the devices that are currently logged into your account. If it gives you the option to, log out of any devices you know aren’t yours. Some social media and email services will also send you an email when they notice unusual activity, so check to see if you’ve received any.
More tips to help keep your details safe
Use complicated passwords
It’s a good idea to use passwords with eight or more characters and to include capital letters, numbers and punctuation within it. Don’t just put the capital letter at the start and your punctuation at the end.
Don’t use the same password for more than one site
If you’re going to find it difficult to remember numerous passwords try using an online password manager. Many of these can generate strong passwords for you automatically, too.
Protect your PIN
Try not to use your debit or credit card PIN as the number you use to unlock your phone. It’s easy for someone to look over your shoulder and work it out.
Enable two-factor authentication where available
Some sites give you the option of sending a text or using an external app to generate an access code on your mobile as added security when logging in from a new location. It’s an easy way to tighten up your online security.