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Larilyn’s Tip of the Week: Password Sharing

When I was little, my mom taught me a song.  One of the verses had the words:

If I had a stick of gum, and you didn’t have one –
I’d break mine in two!  Give half of it to you!
That’s sharing, caring, that’s the thing to do!
And whether you know this song or not, I think most of you would agree that you were taught as a child the importance of sharing with others.

Normally, I would wholeheartedly echo this sentiment in all areas of life, but I am here to tell you – there is one area of your life where you should NOT be sharing.  And yet, almost every day I see evidence of it with our clients.  I just don’t think people recognize why it is such a bad idea.

Yes, YOU.

Sitting at your computer.

Planning your vacation.  Looking forward to a week of relaxation.  Imagining all the activities on your itinerary…..or lack thereof.
I see you writing down your computer password.  And I know what you’re planning to do with it.  You’re going to give it to your co-worker so that they can check your emails for you.  Or input files for you.  Or do something else for you.  On your computer.  As you.

I have three words for you.
Wait.  I have three more words for you.
Just to re-iterate my point, here’s three final words.
I can hear you through my computer screen.

“I trust them!”  “It’s no big deal!”  “We do this all the time!”

First of all, your insistence on making a bad decision doesn’t make it a good decision.
Second of all, it doesn’t matter how much you trust them, or that they won’t do anything bad – it’s still a huge security risk for many reasons.

Let’s start with a basic one.  Your password is no longer a secret.  Whether you write it down to give to them, or they write it down to remember it – it’s written down, and it can be lost or picked up by someone else.  You are no longer in control of who has access to your log in information.  And why is this bad?

One of the whole reasons we have individual log in’s for every employee is that anything done on the computer is traced back to who was logged in when it happened.  Someone transferred a whole lot of money out of the company bank account?  Which computer was this done from and who was logged in?  Bingo, we have our suspect.
Now let’s go to another part of the risk – human nature is a weird thing.  Even when we know we shouldn’t do something, so many of us do it.  And even though I think most people know they shouldn’t use the same password for everything – people still do.

So while you just gave your password for your computer to your co-worker (and whoever else it ends up with)….did you also give them the password to your email?  Your bank account?  Your Netflix?  Your dating profile??
I get it.  Time stops for no man (or woman).  Even while you’re on vacation, work needs to get done.  

However, let me point out that there are other, more secure ways of sharing things with your co-workers.

Do they need access to your email?  Let us set up delegated access for you.

Do they need access to specific files?  Share them (through Google Drive, or SharePoint, or a server share) and give your co-worker permission.

But for the love of all that is holy – stop.  Sharing.  Your password!!!!