In the world we live in most items we interact with have a password. The device you reading this on probably has a password. That brings in the problem of remembering passwords. Sometimes it feels like there are just too many. This is especially made worse by the fact that it is not wise to repeat passwords.
For convenience purposes, browsers introduced the feature to store passwords for you. Since most of our online activities require a browser, it seems like a natural feature to use. Storing passwords in your browser can be convenient, but it comes with significant security risks. When all is considered a password manager is better.
Here are three key reasons why you should reconsider using your browser for password storage and opt for a password manager.
Vulnerability to Password Stealers
Passwords stored in browsers prioritize convenience over security. But most popular browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge leave your passwords vulnerable to attack.
While the passwords themselves are encrypted, the encryption key is stored nearby and is easily accessible. Because of this, an attacker can easily steal your password and decrypt it. Offline, some people lock their robust doors and leave the key under the doormat. That is similar to what browsers do.
Some malware, known as password stealers, specifically targets browser-stored passwords. These malicious programs locate the key, decrypt passwords, and send them to cyber criminals who often sell them on the dark web.
Physical Access Threat
The risk isn’t limited to cyberattacks; even individuals with physical access to your computer can exploit this vulnerability. Various scripts for extracting browser-stored passwords are readily available online, and you don’t need advanced hacking skills to use them. AI tools that can quickly write scripts based on a prompt have further exacerbated the situation.
We now have a lot of script kiddies around. Your colleague at work, or if you are the boss a nosey employee could be a script kiddie. A short physical access to your computer and they can potentially gain access to all your stored passwords. Don’t forget that your device can also be stolen, phone theft is a global menace. In London, an average of 157 phones are stolen per day.
People who gain physical access to your device may ultimately be unable to extract the passwords. However, they can still access the sites for which passwords are stored and potentially compromise your online accounts and personal information.
Browser Account Synchronization
Browsers can sync all your passwords between your devices, allowing you to seamlessly login. While this feature may be helpful, it also poses a significant security risk. If a hacker gains access to your browser account, they can easily log in on another device and access all your synchronized data, including saved passwords. This puts all your accounts, from social media to financial accounts at risk.
Why a Password Manager Is a Safer Choice
Password managers offer a more secure alternative. They store your credentials in an encrypted format and require a primary password to access them. Unlike browsers, the primary password in a password manager cannot be disabled, ensuring your saved passwords are always protected. Even if someone gains physical access to your computer, they won’t be able to access your accounts without the primary password, which only you know.
Additionally, password managers use robust encryption techniques (such as AES-256) and do not store decryption keys nearby. These keys are generated dynamically based on your primary password, providing an extra layer of security. Cloud synchronization in password managers is also secure, as your passwords are stored in an encrypted form, and the decryption key is generated based on your primary password, rendering them useless to attackers without it.
Ultimately, a password manager offers both convenience and superior security when compared to storing passwords in your browser.