Google finally boosts Chrome security with password manager protection
Those who use Google Chrome as their preferred web browser are probably familiar with its basic password manager, which allows users to store authentication data and log into various websites hassle-free. It’s all very convenient of course, allowing you to access your favorite websites without needing to login every single time you visit them, but Google has recently come under fire for the lack of security its password manager provides – i.e., there simply isn’t any.
What this means in practice is that, supposing someone borrows your computer and uses Google Chrome, they can easily view all of the saved logins and passwords stored in its password manager. When this flaw was first publicized, Google’s rather laissez-fare response was that this isn’t an issue – saying that security has already been compromised if someone is accessing Google Chrome. However, various people pointed out that this simply wasn’t realistic, as there are many times when friends, family members and/or colleagues might borrow someone’s computer.
While Google initially resisted making any changes, Francois Beaufort – an employee of Google who often posts updates about Chrome on Google+ – has revealed that the company has now added a layer of protection to the password manager, although the feature is only available on Mac builds for now.
If you’re using a Mac computer, you can now enable password manager protection by doing the following:
- Load chrome://flags/#enable-password-manager-reauthentication in the web browser
- Enable the preference and restart Chrome afterwards so that the changes are applied.
Enabling this means that the next time you try to view account info on the password manager page at chrome://settings/password, you’ll be asked to enter your Mac OS account password. Once this information has been provided, the saved data will be viewable for one minute only, after which you’ll need to enter your Mac OS password again.
Beaufort didn’t say in his post if the feature would be introduced to Windows or Linux builds of Chrome, but certainly such a feature would be appreciated by security conscious users of those systems. In the meantime, users of those operating systems are advised to use a third party password manager such as KeePass or LastPass to keep their login data safe instead.
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