If you knew you could reveal your passwords easily, would you appreciate the convenient access or panic at the danger of being hacked? Controversy erupted recently when tech writer Elliott Kember wrote Chrome’s insane password security strategy, explaining how the Chrome browser can expose your saved passwords using its Reveal Passwords feature.
That’s right, Chrome can easily display your saved passwords for all to see. With just a few clicks of your mouse, your passwords can be revealed, complete with all of the letters, characters, and symbols you use to keep your accounts safe from others.
While this feature of Chrome has existed for years and is available on Firefox as well, Kember’s article generated extensive discussion about the browser’s vulnerabilities and the possible password exposure risk for Chrome users. Justin Schuh, Chrome browser security tech lead, responded in the Hacker News forum that the ability to reveal passwords is not a security flaw, but rather an intentional choice by his team.
It’s important for you to know about Reveal Passwords (not an official name), including how to use it and how to protect yourself from exposing your passwords to others. Whether you regard the idea of revealing your passwords as a useful feature or a disaster waiting to happen, this information is important to know, whether or not you use Chrome as your browser.
How Reveal Passwords Works in Chrome
To see your passwords in Chrome, go into Settings by clicking on the 3-bar stack icon in the upper right corner of your toolbar. In Settings, click Advanced Settings at the bottom, then look at Passwords and Forms and see whether “Offer to save passwords I enter on the web” is checked. If it is, click on “Manage saved passwords”.
A box will open with a list of sites where your passwords are saved. Each password will have a series of dots. Click on the dots and a box will be revealed with a Show option:
Click on Show and the password will be revealed.
If you want to delete any password, click on the X on the right side of “Show”.
Also see, How To Geek, View and Delete Stored Passwords in Firefox
The Danger of Reveal Passwords in Chrome
When you’re logged into Chrome and have saved passwords, you and anyone else using your computer can access those passwords, leaving you vulnerable to people who want to steal your passwords.
Even if you don’t use Chrome on your computer you can be vulnerable to this feature when you use Chrome on another computer. If you’re visiting a friend and hop on his computer to check your email, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, or other accounts via Chrome, be mindful that you may be leaving your password trail behind.
Why Reveal Passwords Can Be Helpful
This feature of Chrome isn’t all bad. Knowledge is power and you can use Reveal Passwords for your benefit if you choose to allow Chrome to save your passwords.
Knowing how to reveal your passwords can save you from jumping through hoops with the “Forgotten Password” dance. If you’ve ever waited patiently for a password reset email to arrive in your inbox, only to discover hours later that the email went into your spam folder, you will appreciate the ability to access your passwords in Chrome.
Access Your Passwords on Other Computers
Reveal Passwords can also be convenient when you’re away from your home computer. Log into Chrome on another computer to have access to all of your passwords. Just be certain to log out after you’re done using Chrome.
Reveal Passwords can expose your passwords to others so you want to protect yourself against those who might use this information against you.
1. Disable the Save Passwords feature on your browser. You don’t have to let Chrome remember your passwords.
Go to Settings => Advanced Settings => Passwords and Forms => uncheck “Offer to save passwords I enter on the web.”
You will have to type in your passwords each time you need to log into a site which may be a hassle if you log into a lot of sites. You can instead use a password manager to handle your passwords. See, Information Week’s 10 Top Password Managers and PC Mag’s The Best Password Managers
2. Add a password lock to your computer. If others have access to your computer, you can require a password to unlock your computer when you turn it on or wake it from sleep mode.
- To add a password to your Mac, check out iMore’s How to quickly lock your Mac to keep your Chrome passwords safe!
- To add a password to your Windows computer to exit Screen Saver, visit this site from Microsoft: Use your Windows password for your screen saver password
- To add a password to access your Windows 7 computer, follow these instructions from Microsoft: Protect your computer with a password
- One of the new, cool features of Windows 8 is that you can add a picture password to your computer. Here’s how to do that from Microsoft: Sign in with a picture password
3. Log out of Chrome after you are done. When you are using a computer other than your own, be sure to log out of Chrome when you’re finished using it. As this method of protecting yourself isn’t automatic, don’t rely on it for your everyday use of Chrome.
4. Be careful when you’re using another computer. If you’re using a computer other than your own, log into your Chrome account and log out to avoid leaving your passwords on another person’s Chrome account. When prompted by Chrome to save a password, choose “Not Now” or “Never for this site” if you aren’t logged into your Chrome account.
While no method of password protection is 100% secure [see, A True and Terrifying Tale of Digital Disaster (and How to Avoid It Happening to You)], you need to be vigilant in protecting your passwords from others who can access them easily using Chrome. By taking time to protect your passwords, you can make it more difficult for others to discover your passwords and hack into your accounts.
Did you know how to reveal passwords in Chrome? Have you ever used this feature to access your passwords? Do you protect your computer with a password? Do you use a password manager? Let us know in the Comments section below!