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Saved Passwords

Google revolutionized the browser market when it was introduced in 2008. It swept the market and as of May 2020, it was used in about 68% of the world’s personal computers. According to stats counter,

  • In India, across all platforms, Chrome holds an astounding 82.05% of the total browser market share. The next popular browser is UC Browser at 6.24%!
  • And if only desktop browsers are considered, 85% of the users use Chrome. If you were doubtful, surely the numbers do not lie.

1. Saving Passwords with Google Chrome

If you are using Google Chrome as your primary browser, then you are probably using the default save password feature.  You must have also probably thought, “Where do I find  the saved passwords?” And “How can delete or change them manually?”.

Chrome prompts users to save their password on the browser every time there is a new login.

  1. Uses can either choose to save the password or
  2. Close the prompt, on which case the Chrome will prompt them again during the next login in that site or
  3. Choose never save password, on which occasion Chrome never prompts the user for that particular site in the future.

2. Finding Saved Passwords in Google Chrome

But what if you want to know what your password for a website is without actually using it? Where can you find these saved passwords? In Chrome 84, you can find them by navigating to

Settings or Preferences -> Auto Fill (on sidebar) -> Passwords

This brings you to a list of all saved passwords. Additionally, it also has a list where the passwords were chosen never to be saved. You can view and delete passwords as required by clicking on the 3 dots on the end of each password row.

Google was one of the first browsers that brought in password managers back when it was introduced in 2008. Chrome’s saved passwords do not have a master password feature. It also does not plan to implement it in the near future.

All requests for an update to include a master password were denied. This was mostly because Chrome developers thought a master password does not provide a significant defensive improvement.

Oddly, there are a few key differences between operating systems.

Windows

After numerous requests, in February 2014, Google added a minimal security feature to store passwords in Chrome. Viewing and managing passwords now requires the user to enter their machine’s login password.

macOS

Apple values privacy and security over everything else. After version 45, Keychain Access and Chrome are no longer compatible. Hence all passwords are locally stored in the browser itself.

Additionally, as in Windows, viewing and managing passwords requires the machine login credentials.

Linux

On Linux, Google Chrome can store passwords in 3 ways,

  1. GNOME Keyring – An application to store passwords and sensitive data with some relevant metadata. The data is encrypted and stored on disk. Is considerably safer than kdelibs/KDE.
  2. KW Wallet – A desktop credentials manager application that stores passwords as wallets. Different wallets can use different kinds of data with unique passwords.
  3. Plain Text – Passwords are stored as unencrypted versions of themselves. Highly susceptible to attacks.

As explained by this askubuntu thread, the method depends on the desktop environment. But still, users can manually choose the mode in which they want passwords to be stored via a terminal CLI command

–password-store = <basic|gnome|kwallet>

3. Exporting the saved passwords

All the passwords are stored under Chrome’s default google account. And so you can also view and manage passwords in your Google Account by clicking on the ‘Google Account’.

This takes you to the ‘manage passwords’ page of your Google Account. It allows you to export the list of all saved passwords as a CSV file from here. This in turn can be used to import them all into other password manager applications.

4. Alternatives to storing passwords on Google Chrome

A lot of security experts do not recommend storing passwords on browsers for a lot of reasons. The arguments boil down to the fact that browsers are not built to securely store passwords. They are secondary objectives. When using highly sensitive information, extra care is needed.

Dedicated password management software applications address this issue. They promise maximum security and add additional security layers. A few popular ones that are worth checking out are,

1. LastPass

LastPass- A free password management software that promises maximum security and add additional security layers
  • Check the password for compromised passwords, strength, and age.
  • Comes with a digital wallet to store payment information.
  • Storing digital records and dark web monitoring.
  • The free plan does not limit the number of passwords that can be stored
  • Cross OS Compatibility – Windows, macOS, web client, iOS, and Android.
  • It is also available as a browser extension for chrome.
  • Premium costs $3/month

2. Dashlane

Dashlane-  Find saved passwords & store passwords for free
  • 50 passwords for the single device under free-tier.
  • Multiple devices and unlimited passwords require premium up-gradation.
  • Much better user interface than other password managers.
  • It is compatible on Windows, macOS, iPhone, iPad, and Android
  • Cloud passwords are AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encrypted
  • It is also available as a browser extension for chrome.
  • $3.33/month for premium and $4.99/month for family (maximum 5 members)

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