(Singapore 4 May 2023) Netflix’s seemingly controversial new password-sharing policies are a best practice to improve cybersecurity, said Stuart Wells, Chief Technology Officer of Jumio. 

Wells made such remarks to mark World Password Day — the first Thursday of May — which was set by Intel in 2013.

He said that traditional passwords were a quintessential step in developing the different methods we use to access our accounts today.

World Password Day serves as a reminder to organizations that although passwords were reliable in the past, it is time to bolster security solutions with more secure and robust authentication methods, like biometric authentication, to ensure that the user accessing an account is the authorized user, he said.

“Netflix’s seemingly controversial new password sharing policy is a best practice that all organizations should follow… Most organizations and consumers do not realize the risk that comes with sharing passwords,” he said. 

According to market research group Kantar, Netflix lost more than one million users in Spain in the first three months after the streaming giant’s crackdown on password-sharing could face pushback.

In early February, Netflix introduced a $6.57 (S$8.72) monthly fee for users in Spain who shared their log-in details with another household and technical measures to detect such sharing. The move was linked to a fall in users of more than a million, two-thirds of whom were using someone else’s password, which is based on surveys of household streaming habits.

However, Wells sees the positive side of Netflix’s password policy.

If a user shares their password and the person they shared their password with falls victim to a cyberattack, that password is now compromised and can lead to the cybercriminal potentially accessing their data or their company’s data. This inadvertently causes costly data breaches and damages consumer trust, he said.

He also said that for consumers, sharing a password may seem like a harmless way to help friends or family save money, but the best practice when it comes to passwords is to never share them.

“Consumers fail to realize that although they trust these individuals with their passwords, cybercriminals may gain access to their devices along with usernames and passwords that could lead to identity theft, financial fraud, and phishing attacks. “

He calls on consumers and organizations to implement newer, more secure methods of authentication to safeguard their data.

Experts say prior to technological advances, passwords were uncommon. They were mostly used by secret societies.

In 1961, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) created the computer password, enabling multiple individuals to use a single computer system. By 1986, two-factor authentication came onto the scene.