When it comes to online security, storing our passwords safely is one of the most important things. Many people use the password manager built into Google for convenience, but how does it actually hold up? This is why we need to take a closer look at both the benefits and potential downsides of relying on Google for password storage.
Let’s dive into the discussion and see what we can learn about whether Google’s solution measures up or if there may be better options worth considering.
What is Google Password Manager?
Google Password Manager is an easy-to-use tool that the company provides for storing all your usernames and passwords securely in one place. It’s built into your Google account, so you don’t need to download anything extra.
Basically, it allows you to save all your login credentials to sites and apps right in your Google settings. Then, when you log into one of those accounts from your computer or phone, it will automatically fill in your username and password with just one or two clicks. No more struggling to remember passwords or having them written down where someone could find them.
Some key features include super strong random passwords it can generate for you, syncing all your logins across devices and security features like two-factor authentication. It lets you access your passwords from anywhere since it’s all online.
Of course, the big tradeoff is that you have to trust Google with all your private login info, which is why some people worry about the security of having their passwords stored on someone else’s servers.
How Google Password Manager Works
When you use Google Password Manager, it stores your login details for various websites and services. These details include usernames and passwords, and Google employs strong encryption methods to keep your data safe, ensuring that even Google can’t read your stored passwords.
One of its convenient features is automatic password capture. When you log in to a new website or create a new account, Google Password Manager will prompt you to save the login information. It’ll automatically capture your details when you sign up for new sites or apps, so you don’t have to manually enter them everywhere.
It can also automatically fill in your saved passwords when you revisit websites or apps, making it easier to access your accounts without needing to remember and type in your details.
Your logins also sync across any device you use with your Google login. Whether you’re using a laptop, smartphone, or tablet, you can access your saved passwords. Another cool thing is it generates password combinations for you when you need a new one. It can generate complex and unique combinations of characters for you, which helps thwart common password attacks.
The manager also keeps an eye out for security breaches. If it detects that one of your saved passwords may have been compromised in a data breach, it will notify you to change the password. Additionally, it encourages using Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), an extra layer of security, by storing backup codes and facilitating MFA setup for your accounts.
However, Google Password Manager is not limited to Google services; it is a versatile tool that can be used for login credentials across many websites and apps. So, you can access your saved passwords anytime by going to your Google Account settings. Here, you can view, edit, or delete saved passwords as needed, giving you full control over your details.
Benefits of Using Google Password Manager
Having all your passwords saved and auto-filled streamlines the process of logging into sites. No more digging through password notes or forgetfully creating new ones. It eliminates all the hassle of manually entering login info each time. With a click of the mouse, you’re right in without even thinking about it.
Syncing Across Devices
All your saved passwords seamlessly sync between devices associated with your Google account. Whether using a computer, phone, or tablet, your passwords go wherever you do. Even if you lost access to one device- your passwords are still accessible elsewhere.
The password generator creates stronger, more secure passwords than most people can think of alone. These passwords are harder for hackers to guess or crack, reducing the risk of certain attacks targeting commonly-used passwords.
Google Password Manager’s universal accessibility removes the frustration of potentially getting blocked out of accounts due to not having the right device. Having your passwords accessible whenever or wherever you need them expands your options.
Automatic Password Capture
Google Password Manager is like having an assistant that remembers your passwords for you. Whenever you create a new account or log in to a website, it often offers to save your login info, so you don’t have to do it manually.
Drawbacks of Google Password Manager
Passwords are Stored on Google’s Servers
While Google Password Manager provides significant security and convenience benefits through encryption and authentication, one consideration is that your password data is stored remotely on Google’s servers rather than solely within your own local control.
When you save passwords through Google Password Manager, the encrypted versions are synced to your Google account online. This allows for seamless access across devices but means Google retains a copy of your encrypted password vault.
Even with encryption, bugs could happen down the line that might expose things. And surely, if the government came knocking, legally, Google would have to hand over whatever data they store.
Risk of Hacking or Data Breach at Google
Even though Google puts a ton of resources into cybersecurity, the reality is no company is completely hack-proof – no matter how big or wealthy. Hackers are constantly finding new exploits and ways to break into even the most secure-seeming networks. And a lot of people are trying to hack Google every day since they’re such a big target.
If one of those attempts was ever successful, it could potentially spell big trouble if they got into the systems storing all those encrypted password vaults. Additionally, security is only as strong as its weakest link. Major cloud providers also remain targets of intellectual property theft or espionage.
Reliance on a Single Point of Failure
One thing to consider is that by using Google’s password service, you’re putting all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Everything is centered around having access to your Google account. If that ever got compromised or disabled somehow, you’d be totally sunk without a lifeboat.
Compared to an offline manager where the encrypted files are solely under your control, Google makes you reliant on their single infrastructure to access passwords anywhere. So, a major outage or unforeseen shutdown could lock you out until they get things repaired.
Loss of Control Over Private Password Data
When you feed all your login credentials into Google’s servers, you lose some autonomy over that sensitive information. Even though they encrypt it securely, the fact is Google ultimately holds the master keys to your password vault.
If they decided one day to change something in their systems that impacted how people access passwords or even discontinue the manager feature completely, there’s not much the average user could do besides comply or find a new solution. Your password data is then at the mercy of Google’s business priorities and technical decisions.
We’re not saying Google would do anything sneaky like sell your info or hand it directly to advertisers. But as a giant corporation, their interests may not always match protecting individuals’ privacy as the top goal either.
How Secure is Google Password Manager
Evaluating how secure something like Google Password Manager really is isn’t exactly straightforward. On the one hand, Google puts a massive amount of resources into beefing up security – we’re talking about some of the smartest people in cyber trying to protect many users’ info. They have insane encryption, continuous monitoring, constant updates – all the bells and whistles.
However, keeping passwords solely online means having to trust that no breach or critical mistake ever manages to penetrate those defenses. And even the best security can only be as solid as its weakest link over time.
For many users, Google strikes a reasonable balance between functionality and safety. Their encryption makes the passwords very difficult to crack, they patch vulnerabilities quickly, and their infrastructure is generally stable. Comparatively, their security is stronger than what individual password management looks like for most people.
That said, when it comes to something as private as passwords, the most hardened option is to have them solely under your physical control with an offline manager. Removes having to put long-term trust in an online service entity.
In the end, there’s no 100% ironclad security for anything online. But Google Password Manager is about as protected as you could reasonably expect a large-scale online service to be. It presents a viable option for most, though you may prefer sole local control if you have extreme privacy concerns.
How To Safely Use Google Password Manager
While Google takes precautions to encrypt passwords and authenticate users, it’s still wise for individuals to be proactive about their account and device protections. This way, you can safely enjoy the benefits of Google Password Manager without compromising the safety of your passwords. Here are some top tips:
Use Stronger Passwords
One of the most important things you can do is ensure to use good, strong passwords – especially for accessing your Google account itself since that’s the gateway to all your other passwords stored in the manager.
Go for longer passwords with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols – the longer and more random, the better. Avoid common words, names, or dates because those are easier for hacker programs to unravel.
Ensure Your Google Account Is Secure
It would help if you took a minute now and then to check your account activity page. It’ll list all the recent places you’ve logged in from, so you can spot anything shady immediately. And Google even lets you remotely remove access from unfamiliar devices with one click if needed.
Watch out for sketchy email links or websites that could be phishing scams pretending to be Google. Always double-check URLs and only enter passwords on the regular Google sites themselves to stay on the safe side.
Regularly Update Your Passwords
Another important security habit is changing your passwords every few months, even for accounts you use the manager for. It can be a pain having to change passwords, but it really helps keep you safe over the long run.
Why bother if Google encrypts and saves all your logins anyway? Well, sites and services get hacked occasionally, and old passwords that never changed could still be at risk even years later if one of those breaches exposed them. Updating regularly means any compromised passwords are now fresh and unused. Plus, it prevents anyone who may have once spotted your Starbucks password from abusing it way down the line.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
If there’s one thing you should do to lock down your Google account security, it’s enabling two-factor authentication, or 2FA for short. That’s where, even if someone steals your password somehow, they’ll also need access to your phone or another device to log in.
It’s simple to set up, but it makes a huge difference. Without it, your password is the only thing stopping a hacker once they have the keys. But with 2FA in place, they’d also need physical access to your phone, which is harder.
And Google makes it super easy, so whenever you or anyone logs into your Google account from a new device, it’ll text a verification code to your phone that must also be entered.
Avoid Sharing Your Devices and Passwords
One thing that can undermine your security when using Google’s password manager is letting other people access your devices or accounts. Sometimes, it’s tempting just to let your friends borrow your laptop quickly or leave yourself logged into apps on shared machines. But that’s asking for trouble down the line.
Even if you completely trust whoever’s borrowing things, there’s always a risk they could slip up somehow and compromise your passwords without meaning to. They may not log out fully, or a device may get stolen with your account still active. Next thing you know, anyone could be in your personal password vault.
What Can I Use In Place of Google Password Manager?
If you’re not fully comfortable storing all your secret login sauce in Google’s cloud, some other solid options exist that keep your passwords strictly local. A really popular free one is LastPass. You can use it on all your devices, but it saves encrypted copies of everything solely on your own machines, not their servers.
While for die-hard privacy nuts, there are also standalone managers like Keeper or Dashlane that work the same way. They don’t share your data with anybody.
Truthfully, there’s no perfect solution at the end of the day- every option involves some trust or compromise somewhere. But Google does take security seriously and makes it simple to use their manager safely if you follow good practices.
So, whether you go with them or something else also comes down to what risks you’re willing to take versus convenience. But as long as good habits are followed, Google Manager is right for most casual users.