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You probably know on some level that you shouldn't share your passwords with another person. After all, it's your password, and it's meant to keep other people from accessing your online accounts. But plenty of people share their passwords, knowing that it's a potentially risky move. Maybe you and a coworker need to access the same document, or you and your extended family use the same streaming service login. If you share one or several of your passwords, know this: You're not alone.
A survey conducted by a leading digital security firm LastPass showed that 95 percent of respondents said they share up to six passwords with other people, including logins for financial, business, social media, and entertainment accounts, even though they know they shouldn't. The survey also found that only 19 percent said they don't share passwords that would jeopardize their identity or financial information — meaning that leaves 81 percent of people who would share those passwords.
"Sharing passwords is a terrible idea," computer security researcher Katie Moussouris, founder of Luta Security, tells Yahoo Life. "One should never do it."
Instead, Moussouris says, a password manager is the way to go. "You can use a password manager to essentially share access without sharing the password itself," she says. Computer security expert Graham Cluley, co-host of the Smashing Security podcast, agrees. A password manager "can help you with the biggest problem associated with passwords — which is using the same password in different places — as well as other issues such as choosing strong, hard-to-crack passwords," he says.
Password manager software, such as LastPass Premium, creates passwords for every single account you have, including your credit card accounts, email, social media, streaming services and more. The LastPass Premium password generator also creates long, randomized and secure passwords to help guard against online security threats, and offers unlimited password storage so you can have a unique password for everything. LastPass Premium can also store the passwords securely across all of your devices.
So why shouldn't you share passwords? What can happen? Experts say there's plenty that can go wrong if you share your passwords with someone else. Here are the biggest potential issues:
Reason #1 why you shouldn't share passwords: It could be revealed in a phishing scheme
Cluley recommends keeping this in mind: Your coworkers, family members or friends that you're sharing your passwords with may not be as security-conscious as you are. "They might fall for a phishing scam and hand your password over to a cybercriminal," Cluley says. And then a criminal can access your account and steal your information — and possibly your money.
Reason #2 why you shouldn't share passwords: Someone else may have malware
Even if you keep your computer secure, there's no telling whether the people you're sharing your password with will do the same. "They might have malware on their computer, which steals your password as they enter it into their browser," Cluley points out.
Reason #3 why you shouldn't share passwords: You could compromise your other accounts
If you use the same password across multiple accounts, you could jeopardize all of them if the wrong person gets a hold of your login. "It increases your risk," Moussouris says. "If one account is compromised, attackers are very good at trying the same password against multiple services. It's really dangerous, especially if you care about the data you’re trying to protect."
Reason #4 why you shouldn't share passwords: You may end up revealing more than you want
You may think you don't care about what other people see on your account, but what if you happen to have personal information that you wouldn't want, say, a family member or coworker to know? "You may feel comfortable sharing some information with them, but not others," Cluley points out.
Reason #5 why you shouldn't share passwords: You could get in trouble
Once you hand your password off to someone else, you can't guarantee that they'll treat your account or information the way you prefer. "What if they do things within your account that you haven't authorized? As far as the online service is concerned, you were the one who did it," Cluley says.
Cluley says that the most important thing is "not to reuse the same passwords" and "ensure passwords are randomly generated" rather than making them up ourselves. "And don't write it on a [sticky] note or on the whiteboard in the corner of the room," Cluley says. "Use a password manager."