The ever-popular browser Google Chrome turned 10 years old this month, and with that anniversary the Google team announced a bevy of new changes in the latest release – from a new look to behind-the-scenes functionality tweaks.
Here at Naked Security we’re most interested in the security-related update that the new version of Chrome now offers: an in-browser Chrome-native password generator and manager.
Yes, Google products have been offering to store passwords for their users for some time now via Google Password Vault – and for that matter, most browsers have been offering their own native password manager features too (in addition to the many third-party password managers that integrate into the browser of your choice).
Combined password manager and generator
The new wrinkle here is that Chrome will now generate a unique password for the user as a part of the everyday credential creation process.
That generated password will be stored in the cloud-based Google Password Vault, meaning it will be available to that same logged-in Chrome user across their devices.
As you can see in the images below, there’s no add-ons or third-party app required here, and the browser password generation looks very similar to form-fill technology that browser users are already quite used to:
Chrome is by no means the only browser with this capability. We’ve previously covered how Apple’s Safari browser will be offering similar functionality in the upcoming iOS 12 release, which should be out this month.
So it seems like in-browser password management and generation are well on their way, if not already here. Hooray, right?
Generally speaking, the fewer barriers between users and the creation of more secure, unique passwords, the better. However, depending on your point of view, there may be caveats.
For those who already have the desire and ability to use a password manager – which is likely to be most Naked Security readers – the fundamental question is whether or not they will prefer to entrust their passwords to a massive company like Google or Apple, a third-party password manager like 1Password or LastPass, or use a homegrown solution, like a personal algorithm.
There’s certainly an argument for keeping passwords out of the cloud, a browser, or a big company that already knows a ton about you, like Google or Apple. Putting all your browsing and password information in one place may be a risk that not everyone wants to take – not everyone wants all their eggs in Google’s basket, so to speak.
And certainly, there are many people that never want their password vault stored on the internet, regardless if it’s via a browser password manager or a cloud app. For those folks, an in-browser password generator and manager understandably holds little appeal.
A convenient tool?
On the other hand, though many of us know what good password hygiene is, why it matters, and how to use a password manager, there are just as many – if not more – who don’t.
Then there are those who know it is important, but still don’t bother with it – a refrain we often hear is that people know strong, unique passwords matter, but it’s such a pain to find yet another piece of tech to help with this (let alone set it up and learn to use it).
In this case, a built-in password generator and manager within the browser offers a distinct advantage: Most people are very comfortable with how their browser works, and if the browser offers oh-so-helpfully to take care of yet another internet annoyance (making and remembering all those pesky passwords), it’s one less thing to worry about.
What do you think? Does an in-browser password generator and browser appeal to you? If you’re a Chrome user, will you be using Google’s password vault or are you sticking to a different option?