Shared Account

What is a shared account? Shared account definition in information technology.

What is a Shared Account?

A shared account is a single login account that is shared between multiple people. Typical examples of shared accounts include sharing a computer login account, email accounts, streaming services. Shared accounts allow multiple users to access a resource that may have only been meant for a single user. In corporate IT security, shared accounts are not in line with best practices due to the lack of accountability and auditability. Accounts are usually shares to save on cost of paying for more than one account.

Examples of Shared Accounts

  • A shared computer with a legacy common login account shared by employees.
  • A generic company email account that multiple employees monitor in shifts.
  • Shop floor computers in kiosk mode for different shifts to access at different times.
  • An online tool or desktop application that only allows one login account.  
  • Streaming services shared between friends and family (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, Disney+).

Risks of Shared Accounts

  • Lack of accountability - since multiple users share the account, no one person is held accountable. 
  • Auditing is impossible with shared accounts since IT admins can never tell who logged in to which account.
  • Shared accounts are security risks since any number of unauthorized people could have potential access to the login credentials.
  • Password sharing is another vulnerable byproduct of shared accounts.
  • After employees leave the company, they may still have access to the shared account.
  • Weakening of corporate cyber security culture and posture by allowing careless sharing of passwords.
  • Negating the value of identity access management solutions

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