Shared Login Details and Your Internet Security
Last Updated: February 3, 2021
With nearly sixty percent of the worldwide population being active internet users, the internet has become a crucial part of our lives. It has become the main channel of the present-day information community. It is no wonder internet security has become the in-thing. Individuals, organizations, and governments continue to spend money to keep communications and data on the internet secure.
A way to keep your data safe is to open a user account for the service you use. The concept of user accounts is to give access to data or services to account owners and restrict illegitimate access from anyone else. Access control is a bedrock of internet security; it is merely a way to determine a person is who they say they are.
If someone other than you uses the right credentials to access your account, there is no way to deduce it’s not you; your service provider will simply think it’s you. Every single action that a person with your login details takes on your account will reflect as if it’s you operating at the very moment. It is essential to know the risks that come with sharing your login details with people you trust.
What Is Shared Login?
Shared login is when two or more people have access to a single-user account with the same credentials. A single-user account is one that is created for an end-user. A user’s login details are usually a password, email address, or an exclusive username.
When you share your user login details with another person, you give them the authority to use your account as you. It is bad practice to share your credentials with anyone in several situations, as there are far more significant risks than benefits. Many services prohibit its use in their policies and actively combat it with the aid of technology.
There are some cases where username and password sharing is unavoidable. For example, social media managers will always need access to accounts they oversee. In cases like that, it is better to find a secure way to share your login details. You will be leaving yourself open to risks linked to the unsafe sharing of your login credentials if you don’t find a safe way.
What Are the Risks Associated With Sharing Login Details?
Sharing your username and password comes with some risk. Understanding these risks will make it easier for you to stay away from sharing your login details.
1. Account Security
A significant reason against the practice of sharing your login details with anyone is to ensure your internet accounts continue to be secure and are not prone to attacks. Sharing your username and password with someone else can ultimately lead to compromising the security of your account.
You cannot trust anyone to keep your credentials safe. There is the risk of them leaving your password and username in places that are not secure, leading to malicious entities discovering them and gaining access to your account. You cannot trust that networks or devices they use are safe, leading to hackers gaining entry to your account.
There is the possibility that you have other accounts with the same credentials, which puts your accounts at the risk of being vulnerable to social engineering attacks. Social engineering attacks are made to gain easy entry to user accounts on the internet by persuading individuals to use the right password and username on a similar fake site. The more people know your account login details, the more vulnerable you are to this type of attack. Sharing login details can also prevent you from using security technology that makes your accounts more secure. For example, using Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) allows you to have more than one way of verifying your identity. It is doubtful for anyone to use 2FA while sharing login details because of how stressful it can be.
2. Privacy Breach
Keeping your data and other information private should be very important to you. When you share your credentials, you’re giving unlimited access to your privacy. Even if the person does not have any malicious intention, there is still the possibility of data exposure without them knowing.
You should not keep sensitive data in any user account that you share. These days, hackers can motivate people to sell off accounts that contain sensitive information about the account owner. Sharing your login details will put you at the risk of losing more than just your privacy.
3. Potential Loss of Account
Another risk that many people fail to understand is the potential loss of their accounts. As was discussed earlier, sharing your account details with another person can give them access to your other accounts with the same information. The worst possible result of this is if the password is the same one you use to gain entry to a vital account like your email and a malicious entity gets it. The least of your worries will be losing just one account, as it can lead to you losing every account associated with that email.
There is also the possibility of a fallout with someone you share your login details with. In this case, they can lock you out of your account by changing the password. You should have the option of password recovery using your email if it hasn’t been compromised.
When someone other than you logs in to your account, there is no way for the service you use to identify that it isn’t you. This is because it’s your login details that are in use and they would assume it’s you. If an individual uses your account to partake in illegal or inappropriate activity, you will be held responsible.
It will be easy to make someone other than you accountable for every action they take on your account. But this can only be possible if there is a way to determine they are in charge of the account during their use. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and it can lead to you bearing the brunt of any repercussions that come as a result of misuse.
How to Share Your Online Accounts the Safe Way
Sharing single-user accounts is not the best practice as it can expose you to undesirable risks. Even family members should not have your login details as they can unknowingly put you at risk. There are a couple of ways to share online accounts without the need to expose your username and password. Some services have built-in features that will help you achieve this.
A password manager is an application that allows you to save, manage, and generate strong passwords securely. Some password managers have features that will grant you a safe way to share your accounts with others, as long as you all have the same password manager in use. The application will log in to your account for others without revealing your credentials. It will automatically reflect without the need to inform anyone if you change the password. You can also see active users of your credentials and can remove access if you want.
Some applications have built-in features that allow you to share your accounts with other people by providing separate login credentials for them. Examples are Amazon Prime, Spotify, YouTube Music, and Apple Music. These applications offer a subscription plan where you can add or invite a limited number of people to use your account with separate login credentials. Although, in some cases, you have to be living at the same address as these people.
Can a VPN Help?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is usually used to ensure secure communications and privacy on the internet. In this case, a VPN can only help ensure that if you share your login details with someone else through the internet, malicious entities cannot hijack it.
Sharing your credentials while using a VPN might be better than not using one. However, if the other person does not always rely on the security that a VPN provides, you are still at risk of hackers having access to your account.
You can share a VPN with others you give your login details in a bid to secure both yours and their internet. But, that does not take away other hazards caused by a person with your login details being careless or hostile towards you.
In sharing your login details with anyone, either find a safe way to share or don’t share at all.
Most Information Security experts frown on sharing login details. It brings far more security risks that outweigh the benefits. Even though you commonly share passwords with people that you consider trustworthy, it is not enough reason to do it. Unsafe password and username sharing habits can ultimately lead to you either losing your account or your entire internet identity.
Safe methods still don’t consider the human factor. You cannot determine the actions or inactions that a person may take while using your account. Except you intend to open your data to vulnerabilities that come with sharing your login details, it is better to refrain from doing such.