As Valentine’s Day approaches, many couples and romantic partners may be inclined to share their passwords and online accounts as a symbol of trust and intimacy. However, this practice can put sensitive information and personal assets at risk of cyber attacks and privacy breaches. A recent survey by Express VPN, found 81% of Americans have shared passwords with a romantic partner, showing romance ranked over risk (1).
Fifty percent of Americans have admitted to hacking a romantic partner’s phone. Twenty percent of those didn’t know the password, but guessed it from information they knew about their partner (2). There is always a balance between wanting to know something and respecting a person’s privacy and space.
“Password sharing may seem harmless, but it can have serious consequences for both individuals involved,” says Heather Stratford, Founder and CEO of Drip7. “In the event of a break-up or other conflict, shared passwords can be misused, and personal information can be accessed and manipulated.
“Also consider all your passwords. Do you use the same password for your phone and your bank? How would you feel if your partner posted on your social media?” says Stratford.
One of the reasons that people can often use or guess another person’s password is because most people don’t use unique passwords but repeat using the same passwords. To ensure the protection of personal and financial information, cybersecurity experts recommend having a unique password for each account and also not sharing the password with others. Additionally, it’s important for couples to think about boundaries and openness. Having a conversation around online security habits and establishing clear boundaries around technology and privacy leads to a solid relationship.
If you are considering sharing your password with a romantic partner, Daniel Farber Huany, privacy advocate and author of “Get Lost: Personal Privacy Strategies for Extremely Busy People,” suggests asking yourself two questions.
First, “Do you trust your partner?” Second, “Are you open and honest in your relationship with nothing to hide from your partner? If you can answer yes to both, then sharing your phone password is not unreasonable to do. If you can’t answer yes to both, then you should keep your password private,” explained Huany.
“It’s no secret that password-sharing is a way for consumers to get around the cost of paying for multiple services,” he said in a statement. “What consumers aren’t considering is that these behaviors make them vulnerable to digital crime when people outside your household — even ones you trust — have your passwords on their devices,” said, Hari Ravichandran, founder/CEO of Aura.
Boundaries about your passwords and personal information is an important conversation in a blossoming relationship. It is possible to have love, trust and not share all your personal information.
If the romance wilts, change your passwords to something new, unique and not based on information your ex will have such as your birthday and favorite pet’s name.
Couples and romantic partners can prioritize their online safety this Valentine’s Day and every day by practicing good cybersecurity habits and taking proactive steps to protect their personal information.