Google released a new extension for Chrome that will alert you if one of your username or password combinations is known to have already been breached, according to the company’s blog post.
Image Credit: Google blog
How it works
Whenever you enter your login details on a site, the extension, called Password Checkup, will compare the data against a database of four billion credentials that it knows have been compromised over the years. If a match is found, the tool will display a red alert box and suggest that you should change your password.
There’s a good amount of technical knowledge on Google’s blog post about how Password Checkup” works, but for the most part, it seems like a very good feature for all Chrome users to have. Download the extension here.
[Update]: The chrome extension can also be installed on the Opera browser as it is based on the same Chromium engine as Chrome.
Did chrome copy Firefox?
At first glance, Google’s Password Checkup extension sounds similar to Mozilla’s Firefox Monitor feature that advises web surfers to check if their accounts might be at risk when they visit sites that have suffered a breach. But Google’s Chrome extension goes one significant step further, it examines your login credentials (username or email address and password) as they are entered on a site and seeing if they match details that they know have been previously exposed.
This, unsurprisingly, may make some users cautious. Would you feel comfortable knowing that a browser extension was snooping upon your passwords? However, Google says the extension is designed so that no one, including itself, can access your login information.
Again, Google says this is designed with privacy in mind, and only very basic information is sent to websites. This means that they will only know that there has been some sort of security activity and whether your account was hijacked, or if you simply had to change your password due to suspicious activity.
It’s a good extension but still you can’t afford to be sloppy
It’s a frustrating side of using the web, but password breaches are unlikely to go away for quite some time, if ever, so making sure you have something to check if passwords are as secure as they need to be is one way your digital life can be helped.
However, it should go without saying that although Password Checkup may be useful, it’s not a replacement for investing your time to come up with a good password.