Can You Trust Your Browser With Passwords?
Remembering all your passwords can be difficult, so it can be inviting when your web browser offers to “remember” one of them for you – but can your web browser be trusted?
Many of the latest versions of browsers such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are reasonably good at providing some protection for stored passwords, but only under certain conditions.
The biggest risk with password storage on your computer is that you’re putting all of your passwords in the one basket, so it would be quite a disaster if the basket was stolen!
If you want to store your passwords, then it’s really important that you do it right, and this means having a solid security foundation in place first. Here are 5 things to consider:
1. Your passwords are only as safe as your PC. It all starts with your computer or device. If it’s vulnerable to attack because it isn’t completely up-to-date with the operating system, web browser and Internet security software, then you’ve already lost the battle. So, make sure your PC is in tip-top shape before choosing to store your passwords.
2. Limit access to your computer. A saved password means you don’t need to enter it every time, but this convenience also extends to other users who have access to your PC. Make sure your computer asks for a password before you can use it, and always remember to lock the screen or log off when leaving.
3. Consider full disk encryption. Stored passwords are a literal treasure trove of access to your life. If you’re using a laptop computer, then it’s even more important that you take every precaution to protect it. This can be achieved by using “full disk encryption” which scrambles the data and ensures no one can read your password in plain text.
4. Activate and use a master password. Some browsers provide an option to setup a “master” password which is used to protect your stored passwords. This option is strongly recommended, but make sure you choose a long and secure passphrase and make sure you never forget it – otherwise you typically cannot retrieve the stored passwords ever again!
5. Backup your computer. When storing passwords on your PC, you’re taking on the responsibility of not losing them – and this means backing up! Make sure your computer is backed up regularly by using an automatic backup solution if you can. There’s nothing worse than having a disaster only to realise you “forgot” to backup.
Once you’ve implemented these important foundation steps, you’ll then be able to store passwords with peace of mind.
So, what are your thoughts? Do you trust your browser to store passwords?