Even if you don’t spend much time online, it’s easy to build up a lot of passwords. From banking websites and work emails to online subscriptions and social media accounts, the security platform Nordpass claims that the average person tends to have around 100 passwords to their name. This can quickly become a problem: no one can remember all of these passwords unless they’re kept simple or are repeated across multiple accounts, which puts them at heightened risk of being broken into by identity thieves and cyber criminals. Most modern web browsers try to mitigate this issue by giving you the option to save your passwords so that you don’t HAVE to remember them, but this can backfire if you lose your phone or your computer suffers a hard drive failure.
So whether it’s because of technical issues or just forgetfulness, you WILL forget an important password at some point, which can be stressful and annoying. If you’re lucky, the password reset process is relatively simple: you get an email link or a text message with a code, you enter it, then you enter a new password that you’ll hopefully be able to remember later on. However, sometimes things take a turn for the worse, leaving you trapped in an endless password reset loop.
A password reset loop can take many different forms. Maybe you made too many failed log-in attempts and got logged out. Maybe you entered your verification information, but for one reason or another it isn’t enough to give you an option to reset your password. Maybe you’ve forgotten the password to the email that you linked to your account, leaving you no options for regaining access. Whatever the reason, the result is the same: you keep trying to reset your password, but the website just cycling you through the same steps with no progress. After a point, the only thing you can do is contact technical support, which could take hours to get the issue settled.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. If you take some smart security steps, it’s possible to escape from the password reset loop and avoid ever getting locked out of a vital account!
Remove Any Weak Links
First and foremost, you should remove any weak links in your password reset setup. One of the main causes of password reset loops is that people will include outdated information, old phone numbers, and abandoned accounts in their reset options. For instance, if you’ve stopped using a particular email account or phone number, make sure they aren’t set as recovery options for any of your accounts. This goes the same with security questions: keep them up-to-date.
Whenever Possible, Use 2-Factor Authentication
It might seem counterintuitive to add an additional step to log-ins if you want to avoid forgetting things, but not only does it keep accounts secure, it also means you don’t have to rely on any single sign-in solution to get into an account.
Change Your Password If An Account Is Compromised.
A website will generally give you a notice if your account may have been compromised. But some people don’t pay much attention to this warning unless something more.
Use An Algorithm to Remember Your Passwords
The best passwords tend to include a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, preferably without using any obvious identifiers (i.e. your last name, your birthday, etc.). But these can be difficult to remember off the top of one’s head. There are ways to make passwords like this easier to remember though, an algorithm.
There are many ways you can do this. Some people take a sentence and boil it down to the first or last letter/number of each word. So a sentence like:
“Mary and James met in 2016 and they loved each other so much!”
Becomes either: “MaJmi2atleosm!” or “ydstn6dydhroh!”
Other people come up with something more complex using bits of information to form seemingly random passwords, like the first four letters of their hometown, the first two letters in the website or app they are using, plus a number and a symbol. So someone born in Detroit might use “DetrFa8!” to get into Facebook, “DetrYo3_” to get into YouTube, and so on.
Consider Using a Password Manager
One of the easier ways to keep your passwords under control is to invest in a password manager. A password manager is a type of software application designed to store and manage online credentials. These programs will generate strong and unique passwords for all of your online accounts, store them in an encrypted database, then lock them behind a single master password. All you need to do is remember the one password and you effectively have ALL of your passwords.
Password managers are a bit more reliable than saving your passwords to a web browser, as the data is typically given better security, while also being more easy to access if a specific device becomes unavailable. Some might be worried about putting so much trust into a single solution, but password manager companies live and die by their reputation, and most have established themselves as both trustworthy and safer than the alternative. That said, if you decide to use a password manager, go with a reputable one such as LastPass, NordPass, or 1Password.
Don’t Get Caught In The Loop
While chances are that you will forget another some time in the future, you don’t have to be a victim of the password reset loop. If you make smart choices on how you choose, remember, and secure your passwords, you can make it easier to remember them, or at least easier to replace them when the time comes. That way you can spend less time trying to get into your accounts and more time actually using them.