Eventually, Google and other big tech companies want do without passwords entirely, but so far, a feature of Google Password Manager called on-device encryption might be your best bet for protecting your valuable codes. Although he quietly came out earlier this springsince you can now easily access Google Password Manager on your Android home screenit’s a good time to check IT-out. The feature is available for Android, iOS, and Chrome, and is designed to help users protect their information from prying eyes, even those of Google.
What is on-device encryption?
In short: on device-encryption adds an extra layer of protection and privacy to Google Password Manager by giving you sole ownership of the encryption key that encodes and decodes the text for your PWs.
When it comes to encryption, “keys” are the tool used to lock and unlock information. Encryption hides data by scrambling normal text, or “plain text” into what is called “cipher textwhich comes across as confusing, unreadable gibberish. However, this gibberish can be turned back into readable plain text using a “key”, which is a randomly generated string of information used to unlock the encryption.
Google Password Manager traditionally keeps a user’s key, stores it in the user’s Google Account, and uses it to protect their passwords. However, with on-device encryption, the user’s key is stored on their actual device and not in Google’s digital systems. The feature allows users to unlock their passwords using their Google password or using an eligible screen lock feature of their choice (PIN or fingerprint or other biometric identifier). Like Google put it, it means that “no one but you will be able to access your passwords”. This includes Google!
Why should you set up account recovery
You can definitely see why this new feature has some privacy benefitsbut there is also some potential downsides. For example, if you lose or forget your Google password or any other feature-related security mechanism, you’re in for a world of pain. Why? Because then you won’t be able to access any of your other passwords.
Since there is a risk of this happening, Google strongly encourages you to set up some account recovery methods before enabling encryption on the device. You can learn more about this by reading Google’s support page for the issue. here. It’s also important to note that once encryption is added to the device, it apparently can’t be removed, so be sure to enable it before enabling it.
How to configure Google Password Manager on-device encryption
So how do you get all this set up? The process should be quite simple. For Android, you just need to do the following:
- Open password manager.
- Click Settings
- Faucet Configure encryption on the device.
That should be it. For the Chrome browser, the process is just as simple:
- In the upper right corner, navigate to After.
- Select Settings.
- Hit Passwords.
- Select Configure encryption on the device.
For iOS, you will follow a similar procedure, but from the Google Passwords webpage. From there, just click on settings and then “configure”. For more information on this new feature, you can consult the complete description of Google here.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t necessarily have to trust Google! For the truly paranoid, that might not be a bad thing to consider. You can still subscribe to another password manager like Keeper or Bitwarden and, if that doesn’t meet your needs, you can always just write your passwords down on a piece of paper. It would be quite difficult to hack your laptop, after all.