If you try to convince people to use a password manager they may say they don’t see the point because their Chrome Browser already manages their passwords. Several users choose this option because the browser will conveniently offer to save your password every time you’re prompted to type it into a form, and even when you create new accounts.
Chrome is a fabulous application. It provides a great user experience and given that passwords are a significant element of online life, it’s quite natural that Chrome would seek to make the task of managing them easier. However, browsers are not designed for password management, and the solutions Chrome provides are pretty basic, and don’t provide a universal solution to managing passwords on different devices and platforms.
In this blog post, I want to focus on the fundamental differences between the password solutions that Chrome and other browsers offer, compared to those offered by password managers, such as Dashlane.*
* NB: I use Chrome as an example, but most of my comparison applies to Apple’s keychain or other browser-based password solutions.
Password Control in your browser
Most people save passwords in Chrome without even thinking about it. As they browse, a popup appears that asks if they would like to save a password, and depending on their mood, they click yes or no.
Most people don’t even know that they can view their saved passwords in the settings of their browser. And who can blame them? It’s actually pretty hard for even advanced users to find them as you must make your way all the way down to the “Passwords and Forms” section of the “Advanced Settings”.
But the fact is they’re there, which makes your passwords easily accessible to anybody who might walk off your computer, or for any third-party applications installed on your computer. A simple example of this is how Dashlane can import passwords from your browsers when you create a new account. If we can do it, other applications can too, and that represents a potential threat to your password security.
Google recently announced that people who sync their passwords through the Google servers will now be able to access them directly at this URL: “https://passwords.google.com“. However, I’m not sure many people will even know their passwords will be there as they will exist in the space without the user being conscious of it. Again, this is something that occurs when your passwords are controlled by a mechanism not specifically designed to manage them.
Contrast that with the decision to start using a password manager. The decision to start using this specific of software is a conscious user decision. Whether you saw an ad, read an article, or heard about them from a friend, downloading password management software is a choice. Two things happen once you start using a password manager: you indicate that you care (even if it’s just a little bit) about having your passwords better organized, and you now have a problem-specific tool designed to maximize your ability to do so.
Universal access to your passwords
Most of our users have Dashlane installed on different platforms, such as on their PC at work, their Mac at home, and their Android or iOS mobile device. The ability to operate on multiple platforms is a critical functionality password managers have that browsers don’t. While browser makers would love for you to only use the applications and software they create, problems arise when you have to operate outside of that eco-system.
You might love using Chrome at home, but if your work network only permits Internet Explorer or Firefox, then you are out of luck. Or what about if you just want to log in on a friend’s computer to quickly check your email? If you’re using your browser to manager your passwords then you would have no easy way to retrieve them on a different device.
It is this lack of inter-operability that makes browser solution unreliable when it comes to managing passwords.
In today’s world, where the overwhelming majority of people operate multiple devices and eco-systems, a true password solution must be able to work everywhere. It’s super handy to store your passwords in Chrome, but that forces you to memorize ALL of your passwords for the times when you’re away from your browser.
A password manager provides this universal access to your passwords as the software has a dedicated app for every platform, as well as secure web access you can use in any environment where you can’t install the app. This ability removes the need to remember any of your passwords.
I personally have more than 500 accounts in Dashlane, and each account has a unique and strong password. If I had to store all of these in my head, then I would have to remember over 5,000 characters!
Instead, I just remember my master password and let the smart password manager do the rest of the work for me.
The average Internet user has around 50 online accounts, and if put on the spot, I doubt most people could name every active online account they have. Think about how many times you’ve had to create an account for a single one-time purpose and then never used it again.
If you want to test this out, we recently released a web tool called Dashlane Scan (https://blog.dashlane.com/inbox-security-scan/). With just one click, Scan lets you find all of the accounts you have stored in your email inbox, as well as any unsecured password that may live in there too. Most people would be utterly shocked at all of the accounts they forgot.
Password management is not about saving a couple of passwords so that you don’t have to type them anymore; it’s about being in control of your online life by having a clear and accurate view of all your accounts. Maybe you have several accounts on one website, or maybe you recently updated some passwords and want to be able to categorize and sort them by those that were recently used. Browser-based password management tools do not offer any organizational capabilities; they just store everything in one big list.
It’s no big news that websites are constantly attacked by hackers who want to get access to our online accounts and data. The endless stream of security breaches in the news – not to mention those that haven’t even been discovered yet – illustrate why it’s imperative to use unique strong passwords for your accounts, and to updated these passwords regularly.
Monitoring and improving your security is not the goal of browsers. Their mission is to provide you with a seamless Internet experience. Managing online security is a tedious activity, and most browsers do not incorporate this element into their functionality.
However, password management applications such as Dashlane are designed specifically for this purpose. Our development team is constantly at work making sure our users have the maximum protection. They created a special Security Dashboard that provides users with a quick and intuitive way to assess and improve their password security.
The Security Dashboard is just one example of how our team is constantly trying to simplify this process of online security. They are constantly monitoring the web to find security breaches and provide instant notifications when any of our accounts may be affected. And the cherry on the cake is that with our Password Changer technology Dashlane can automatically change your password in one-click; something browsers obviously can’t do.
Password Changer does not rely on any API as it automates user actions on the web. This is the kind of technology that requires dedicated investment and maintenance; something only a few companies in the world can do.
Relationship with others
Whether involved in an enterprise environment or just with your family and friends, most of us are sharing more and more accounts these days. These could be FedEx or Dropbox accounts at work, or Netflix and Spotify accounts at home. Regardless, at the moment there are no solutions addressing how to securely and easily share account access other than password managers.
With Dashlane, you can share access to a password, monitor it, have it automatically updated when someone replaces it, and, of course, revoke access if needed. This ability makes sure that you are always in full control of your online account, no matter where you area.
Another important element of online identity management is the issue of your digital legacy. What is a digital legacy? It’s a new term that refers to who can access your accounts if anything happens to you. This is an extremely advanced feature that password managers offer and is something that would never be integrated into your browser.
Last but not least, when you use browser tools to sync your data on other platforms you make it accessible on remote servers. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not accusing Google of doing anything egregious with your passwords or account data, but since your data is not encrypted with a key that only you know then it is theoretically readable by Google, as well as any institution (or hacker) that can access Google’s servers. Google does provide you a way to encrypt your information with a second passphrase, but this is an advanced feature that is usually only enabled by expert users. It also places limits and the ability to use the sync feature as you won’t be able to access your password online anymore.
Privacy is at the heart of what a password manager is because trust and security are everything in our line of business. When you use Dashlane, you can feel secure because your data is encrypted locally on your device, and there is no way anyone can access. This means that no Dashlane employee, hacker, or anyone who got access to our servers would be able to grab your data. All they’d see would be an unintelligible and indecipherable list of random numbers, letters, and characters.
And this, perhaps, is the most important reason using a password manager makes more sense than storing your passwords in a browser. Browsers are great tools, but they are not designed to manage your passwords in a modern, secure, and simple fashion. Nobody would ever use Microsoft Paint for a job that required Photoshop; nobody should use an Internet tool when a password specialist is required.
At Dashlane, we believe the tool we have built is the best solution for your passwords.