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Can you trust your browser with your passwords?

Eric Geier | Aug. 24, 2012
Having your Web browser remember your passwords and/or credit card details can be convenient, but it poses some security risks. How much of a risk depends on which browser you’re using, whether you sync with other devices, and whether you’re using any of the browser's extra security features. Here are the main vulnerabilities in some of the most popular browsers—Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox—and ways you can protect against those weak spots.

Summary

Internet Explorer 9 helps prevent casual snoopingtheres no list of saved passwords in the settingsbut it doesnt provide any advanced security features to prevent someone on your Windows account from using third-party utilities to recover your passwords.

Google Chrome 21 allows anyone on your Windows account to view your list of saved passwords and credit card details, so be careful who you let on. And if you sync your browsing data across multiple computers and devices, consider turning on encryption of all data and setting a custom passphrase for double-protection.

Firefox 14 also by default allows anyone on your Windows account to view your list of saved passwords, but you can create a master password to encrypt and protect them. And if you use the browser syncing feature, Firefox offers great security.

Of the three browsers we reviewed, Id choose Firefox for the best password security thanks to its master-password feature, but Im also eager to see the final version of Internet Explorer 10 for both Windows 7 and 8.

Ill leave you with some additional tips to help you boost the security of your passwords:

  • Never save passwords or sync browser data on other peoples computers.
  • Try to use different passwords for each siteat least for banking and other sensitive accounts.
  • Password-protect your Windows account.
  • Create separate Windows accounts for each user, or at least for those you dont fully trust.
  • For extended family or friends, utilize the Guest Windows account.
  • Use a good antivirus program and keep it updated.
  • Think about fully encrypting laptops, netbooks, and mobile devices.
  • Look into third-party password-management services like LastPass or KeePass.

 

 

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