Nowadays it is necessary to use long , complex and even unique passwords for each site where we register if we want to be safe on the net. It is true that the most comfortable is to memorize a password and use it in all the places where we register. But in doing so we are allowing that, if it falls into bad hands, all our accounts will be compromised. It is very complicated to memorize long, complex, random and unique passwords for each site where we registered. And so, this is where password managers come into play.
A password manager is a type of program designed to allow users to store their access codes in a secure and encrypted database so that, by memorizing only one master key, they can access all their passwords at all times when want or need it.
We can find a large number of password managers today. From commercial alternatives, such as 1Password or LastPass, to free tools such as Bitwarden or KeePass. In addition, modern web browsers, such as Google Chrome, Firefox or Edge, among others, offer users the ability to save their logins.
We all use a web browser daily. Therefore, if this allows us to save our passwords and recommends us to use them when we visit a website, we will choose it for convenience. However, is it really advisable to use them?
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The advantages of using the web browser as a password manager
As we have said, the main advantage of using our web browser as a password manager is convenience. When we register on a site, or log in for the first time, the browser will allow us to save the login data in its configuration file. Thus, the next time we go directly to this website it will remind us that we already have the password saved and, therefore, we can automatically log in from it.
The main web browsers also have password generators. Thanks to this function we will be able to generate strong passwords when we register on a website. This way we will forget to have to think about new secure keys.
This will allow us to use secure, random and different passwords for each website where we register. As the browser will take care of reminding us of the password, we will not have to worry.
All passwords are also synchronized with the cloud . If we use Google Chrome, for example, they are stored on Google servers. If we use Firefox, in Mozilla. Or if we use Safari, in Apple. This allows us that, if we use different computers or devices, we will always have them synchronized with all of them. And as Google, Mozilla, Apple and other companies usually offer dual authentication systems to protect access to accounts, they will always be secure and it will be very difficult for them to fall into the hands of other people.
Thanks to the cloud, in addition, in case of updating a password saved in Google Chrome , it will automatically be available on all other computers or devices where we use the same web browser. This way it is very simple to make sure you have the access codes always up to date.
The disadvantages of trusting our logins to Google Chrome, Firefox, Edge or Safari
Although relying on the browser is very comfortable, we must keep in mind that using this as a password manager has several limitations. For example, one of the most important is that we will be limited exclusively to it.
While specialized password managers are usually compatible with all operating systems and all browsers, if we use, for example, the Google Chrome manager we will only have access to our keys when we are using Google Chrome . If one day we want to switch to Firefox (although there are ways to migrate data between browsers), passwords will not be available. And those that we save in Firefox with Google’s browser will not be synchronized either.
Another disadvantage of browsers is that they only allow us to save web logins . Specifically the user (or email) and the password. Password managers allow us to store much more information in them, such as registration data, Wi-Fi keys, bank details, software keys, etc.
We must also bear in mind that, although we have said as an advantage that browsers have password generators, these are very simple and hardly offer customization options to users. Password managers are much more complete, have advanced algorithms and offer users the ability to customize the secure keys they want to generate.
Third-party password managers are also more secure
Google Chrome, and other browsers, save passwords in their settings, usually protected from other users. If for example we want to see our passwords saved from Chrome, we will have to authenticate with a fingerprint (if we use Windows Hello) or with our Google account. Thus, if someone tries to reveal them, they cannot do so. However, you can log in to our accounts if you access the browser. Third-party password managers often block the database from time to time so that if someone tries to access our keys or saved information they will not be able to do so.
A third-party password manager also has features that allow us to verify the security of our passwords, tell us if we are using repeated, unsecured keys or that may have been stolen in a computer attack. If Google analyzed our passwords in Chrome it would scream in the sky. That’s right. These programs usually carry out these checks locally, never on servers.
In addition, if one day we want to change the browser, simply by installing the corresponding extension we can already have all our passwords at hand and always synchronized, whatever computer, device or browser we use. And, of course, Google, Apple or other companies will not have our passwords on their servers. Although it does not make much sense if instead of Google we transfer them to another private company, such as LastPass.
If we want as much privacy as possible, it is better to opt for free alternatives. Bitwarden , as a cloud solution, or KeePass in the form of software, are the best options in security, privacy and features to manage our passwords.