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Recycle The Trash, Not Your Passwords

In a recent survey of more than 1,000 individuals, 72 percent of respondents said they recycle their passwords.

The survey found that 56 percent of Baby Boomers, 70 percent of Generation Xers, and 76 percent of Millennials recycle passwords. Respondents use the same password an average of four times.

Sixty-three percent of respondents said they use the same password for entertainment websites as they do for important business, banking, and medical sites. In addition, 18 percent said they share their passwords with other people, likely because of the common practice of sharing log-in credentials for video streaming services.

Respondents are most likely to keep track of their passwords by memory (38 percent); followed by use of a password management app (27 percent); a physical notebook (26 percent); a note app (six percent); and sticky notes (three percent). However, 54 percent of respondents said they occasionally forget their passwords.

Finally, the survey found that only 30 percent of respondents were aware of their data being breached. Of those, 89 percent changed their password after learning of the breach. "Majority of Americans Recycle Passwords Up to Four Times" (Jul. 18, 2019).


Reusing the same password for more than one account leaves you vulnerable. If cybercriminals learn your password from a breach of an account, they may use that password to breach your other accounts, but only if you do not change your passwords.

Granted, going back to an old password is easy and convenient, but there are other ways to keep passwords fresh and safe. 

Online password managers are one safe way to keep your passwords fresh. Use of a password manager requires you to remember one password and that password should not be used for any other account and should not include any recycled password.

You can also write your passwords down and store them into a safe. Even then, you should not recycle old passwords in case of a breach of an online provider.

Never store passwords unencrypted in a computer file because this is easy for cybercriminals to steal. If you write passwords in plain text in a computer document, having unique passwords won't help you once cybercriminals have your entire list.

Finally, it's always a good idea to enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. Doing so can help protect you, should your password become known.

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