Why sharing passwords with your partner is a HUGE mistake

It’s a way of showing openness and trust in a modern relationship, but cyber-security expert Alex Merton-McCann says you shouldn’t be so quick to share your Netflix password.

In years gone by, true intimacy might mean letting your legs go a few extra days without shaving, snort-laughing with each other, or farting loudly and proudly. In the digital age, many couples would now include the sharing of each other’s passwords to Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, etc.

It feels like the ultimate demonstration of trust and we are often flattered when someone offers up the passcode for their phone, too, granting us access into the most private depths of our significant other’s life.

But Alex Merton-McCann, a cyber safety Australia and New Zealand advocate at McAfee anti-virus software, says sharing your passwords may not be such a good idea after all.

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“You can’t guarantee that your significant other will be as cautious with your passwords and accounts as you’d like them to be,” she says.

“For example, they may fall victim to a phishing scam by clicking on a malicious link to a fake website designed to capture personal information for misuse.”

The biggest risk, of course, is that if the relationship breaks down your now-ex partner has access to your personal details and could use that against you in an act of revenge. And Merton-McCann says this happens all the time.

“We’ve heard countless stories in the media of ‘revenge porn’ acts whereby ex-partners access private, intimate photos or messages and share these online,” she says.

“While these situations are never the fault of the victim, they are often a lesson in the importance of keeping private information (including logins) truly private.”

It can be unavoidable for certain things in a marriage, as couples often need joint access to bank accounts or bills. But even if you’re in a long-term, committed relationship, Merton-McCann says to be careful for different reasons.

“The risk here is that couples choose passwords that both people will find easy to remember, which are often the passwords that are easy to guess,” she says.

“A savvy cybercriminal would need just minutes to do a quick social media search to find the name of the family pet or the date of the wedding anniversary for inspiration!”

So what are we to do? Merton-McCann says the best approach is to make it a habit to check your passwords regularly so that if something does go wrong, you have quick access to your accounts.

We know we should have a different password for every account (but really, who does??) so if that sounds like too much work, a password manager—which most browsers have built-in—will remember everything for you.