Be honest: Does the news that Netflix is cracking down on password sharing make you break out in a cold sweat?
Yes, you and everyone else. The days of using someone else’s Netflix password may be numbered.
The streaming giant is testing a new feature with select customers to crack down on password sharing. The trial testing intends to verify users’ accounts to stop the spread of a password among people, including strangers, and to prevent fraud. As reported by BBC News, Some users have reported seeing a screen saying, “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your account to keep watching.”
Netflix’s testing comes as the company faces competition from Disney+, HBO Max, and Hulu, as streaming and binge-watching have exploded during the pandemic. Netflix has arguably benefited the most as the streamer, which added about 37 million new customers last year, surpassing 200 million subscribers.
Along with password sharing concerns, Netflix said the new verification process is designed to guard against hackers.
Is there a security risk in sharing your Netflix password?
Jake Moore, a cybersecurity specialist at ESET, commented on the matter and how our otherwise strict attitudes towards password sharing change when it comes to services like Netflix.
“If I were to ask people if they share their email account password with anyone else, the vast majority would probably say ‘absolutely no chance!’… but when it comes to media services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Spotify, such password sharing is quite common. It may sound innocent, but when people are using the same password for their media service that they use for other accounts, it starts to become dangerous, and the risk of account compromises increases.”
ESET researched the matter (you can see their report here), discovering that a quarter of people it surveyed had shared their Netflix password deliberately. Moore points out that the obvious danger of sharing your password is that the next person could share it with someone else.
Moore suggests there’s an easy fix, though, if you ever worry someone has access to your account without your knowledge – which is hopefully rare. “However, it is unrealistic to expect that people are going to stop sharing their accounts completely, so my advice would be to regularly change your passwords to flush out anyone who has gained access over the last year who shouldn’t have. Creating complex passwords, combined with a password manager, will reduce your risk of compromise.”