The Pros and Cons of Storing Passwords in your Browser

We can't remember the last time we typed in our Facebook password. It's saved in our browser's password manager, allowing us quick access to distraction communication at any moment. But we also know plenty of people who swear they'll never let their browser store their passwords. As it turns out, there's pros and cons to each point of view.

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There's no right answer for whether or not you should let your browser's password manager save your logins. You just need to consider the pros and cons of each side and find what's best for you.

OK, so there is one right answer: Never store passwords for secure sites like where you do your online banking or pay your credit card. Secure info (like your account number and access to transferring your money) should never be so easily accessible to someone on your machine.

But for all those harmless sites—like Flickr or your Apartment Therapy login—we're going to weigh each side of the password storing debate for you.


PROS


  • It's easy! And quick! Just two clicks gets you in to most of your password-protected sites.
  • You're immune to any new installation of keyloggers (those software programs that track the keys struck on a keyboard).
  • You have a good defense against phishing attacks. When you're driven to a scam site that's designed to look like Facebook, you'll catch the gig when it has you type your password.

CONS


  • It makes distraction super-easy. You're less likely to "accidentally" spend 3 hours on Facebook during finals week when you're not two clicks away.
  • You're likely to forget your passwords if you never have to type them in. Getting in to your accounts from another computer could them pose a problem.
  • You're vulnerable to frauds. “Reverse Cross Site Request” attacks, where a fake login site fools the browser’s password manager into automatically providing login credentials, could put your online security at risk.
  • You're vulnerable to snoops. Anyone who has access to browse inside your Firefox application is five clicks away from seeing each and every one of your stored passwords. Check it out.
  • You're vulnerable to attacks. With your passwords saved on your hard drive, any user that can gain access to your hard disk, such through a Trojan, can get all of your passwords.


What do you think, readers? Do you have any pros or cons to add to our list?



(Images: Flickr member west.m licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member Adikos licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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Taryn is a writer, maker, and designer based in Atlanta, and editor of lifestyle blog Formal Fringe. She loves her fiance, her dog Bacon, and collecting beer koozies when she travels.

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