When you set up a new account, you probably spend some time coming up with a strong password for it (or use a password generator to do the work for you). But how much time do you dedicate to your username? Chances are, you’ve been using the same one for years. Whether it’s a high school nickname or a combination of your name and surname, reusing it everywhere could have some serious consequences.
Why you need a unique username for every account
The main issue with usernames is that they are public, not hidden like your passwords. Reusing the same username makes it easier for malicious actors to build your online profile. It also makes it easier for advertisers and random people to find and track you online.
If you have only one username, all your social media accounts, work profile, and online forums where you posted will come up in one Google search. This information could allow someone to find out a lot about your life. Where you live, what car you drive, who you’re friends with, where you work, and where your kids go to school. This is highly sensitive information that could make you a target of various cyberattacks, spear phishing.
Your data ending up in a data leak is another serious threat. We’ve talked about the risks of reusing the same password many times. One of your accounts gets hacked or ends up in a breach, and all your other accounts are at risk – unless you used a completely different, random username for each one. So you can think of usernames as a second line of defense. Let’s say you reused one password a lot, but your usernames were always different. A cybercriminal won’t be able to perform a credential stuffing attack with your leaked credentials, so your other accounts will stay safe.
Therefore, if you want the highest level of privacy and security online, use a different combination of passwords and usernames for your every account. You might immediately think that they’ll be too difficult to remember. But password managers save and automatically fill in both your password and username. Make it as difficult and long as you want – you don’t have to remember any of it.
How to create a unique username
There are some rules you should follow to make sure that your usernames are hard to guess:
Don’t use your email username anywhere else – your email is very public, so don’t connect it with other accounts.
Don’t create combos of usernames and passwords linked to each other, like verses from a popular song’s chorus (something like “tenoclockpostman” and “bringmeherletter.”)
Don’t use your real name and surname in any form.
Don’t use your phone number, address, and other personally identifiable information.
Don’t use things that are easy to find online, like your pet’s name, your car, or your mother’s maiden name.
If you’re having difficulties coming up with a different username for your every account, try our random username generator. You can select which category you want your username to be in and how long it should be. Or you can use random letters, numbers, and symbols to generate a truly unique and uncrackable username.