How Often Should You Change Your Passwords?

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We’ve all heard the advice: Change your passwords every three months to keep your accounts safe. But is this really necessary? Turns out, it might not be as beneficial as we once thought. In fact, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has shifted its stance, no longer recommending regular password changes. Let’s delve into why sticking to a strict password rotation schedule might not be the best move, and when it actually makes sense to update your passwords. Learn about the best practices for password security with ForestVPN.

Password Security

Why Regular Password Changes Aren’t Always Necessary

Contrary to popular belief, changing your passwords frequently doesn’t always provide added security. Here’s why:

1. No Real Benefits

If your password is already strong and unique, changing it regularly won’t make it any stronger. A robust password remains difficult for hackers to crack whether it’s been in use for three months or three years.

2. Risk of Weaker Passwords

Constantly changing passwords can lead to weaker choices, especially if you’re relying on memory to keep track. You might end up with variations of the same password or resort to easy-to-guess patterns. This habit increases the risk of security breaches.

The bottom line? It’s better to stick with strong, unique passwords and avoid the hassle of frequent changes.

Scenarios Where Password Changes Are Necessary

While regular changes might not be essential, there are instances where updating your passwords is crucial:

After a Data Breach

If you’ve been affected by a data breach, assume your login credentials are compromised. Change the password on the breached account immediately, along with any similar passwords used elsewhere.

After Unauthorized Access

If you suspect unauthorized access to your account, change your password immediately to prevent further intrusion.

After Using Public Networks

Public Wi-Fi networks pose security risks. If you’ve accessed sensitive accounts on a public network, consider changing your passwords afterward.

After Prolonged Inactivity

If you haven’t used an account for a while, it’s wise to change the password upon returning to it. Dormant accounts are often targets for hackers.

After Logging in on Others’ Devices

If you’ve logged into accounts on someone else’s device, changing your password reduces the risk of unauthorized access.

Best Practices for Password Security

To enhance your password security, follow these tips:

  1. Use Strong Passwords: Opt for long, complex, and random passwords.
  2. Utilize a Password Manager: Store all your passwords securely in one place.
  3. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Add an extra layer of security to your accounts.
  4. Avoid Password Reuse: Each account should have its own unique password.

By adopting these practices, you can bolster your online security without the need for constant password changes.


Q: How often should I change my passwords?

A: While there’s no need for regular changes, it’s essential to update passwords after security incidents or if you suspect unauthorized access.

Q: Is it safe to use password managers?

A: Yes, password managers offer a secure way to store and manage complex passwords, reducing the risk of security breaches.

Q: What is two-factor authentication (2FA)?

A: 2FA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide two forms of identification before accessing an account.

Q: Can I use the same password for multiple accounts?

A: It’s strongly discouraged. Each account should have a unique password to minimize the impact of a potential breach.

Q: How can I protect my accounts on public Wi-Fi?

A: Using a VPN like ForestVPN encrypts your internet connection, safeguarding your data from potential threats on public networks.

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