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Office of Information Technology

Risks of Password Reuse

Guidelines on using the same password across multiple accounts.

The Office of Information Technology would like to remind you that it’s always important to use different passwords for different services. Creating a unique password for each account you have, work or personal, ensures that a compromise of one account does not lead to a compromise of several (or all) of your accounts. While this can result in a great many passwords to remember, there are several good programs to help you manage multiple passwords, such as LastPass, KeePass, or Password Safe. These password managers can help protect against key-loggers as well as enabling you to more easily use longer and more complex passwords. For more information, see the Related Links section on the right side of this page.

You may be aware that Adobe was recently the victim of a breach of over 153 million accounts that exposed millions of passwords and password hints, among other confidential information. You can read more information about the breach here. AU has analyzed the information that was made public to find risks to our faculty, staff, and students, and found that over 3000 of these accounts belong to users who signed up with an AU email address. If you have an account and have not already changed your password, you should do so as soon as possible. If your account is one of the ones on the list, you should also receive an email from Adobe notifying you of the breach. This incident is a good example of the risks of password re-use. If you had used the same password for your AU account and your account, this breach would have disclosed that password, putting both accounts at risk.

For further information, please contact the IT Help Desk at 202-885-2550,, or AskAmericanUHelp.