Your web browser wants to be your best friend on the Internet. No matter if you’re a fan of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or any of a gaggle of other choices out there, their intent is to have you do as much of your Internet activity as possible inside of their domain. That is why they offer to save your passwords, import your bookmarks, enhance your search results, and massage your shoulders while you browse (OK, not yet on that last one).
A growing number of website browsers are wanting to be your password manager as well, meaning that they will store all of your passwords in one place and parcel them out as needed when you go to a site.
If you’re serious about your security and protecting your data, that’s not the best idea. No knock on the browsers for their overall ability, but it’s just one of about 100 different features and apps that they are trying to shove your way, and generic password managers are not what we’re looking for.
To make a real-world comparison, imagine you needed new tires for the car that you use to take your children to school and yourself to work every day. You could go to the Walmart down the road and get tires for $29.99 each that you know will wear out in six months, or you could go to an automotive specialist, get an expert opinion, and get set up with tires specific to your vehicle that will last tens of thousands of miles on the road.
The Problem with Web Browser Password Managers
The first problem is obvious; if you’re not using that browser, you have no passwords. Chrome and Safari and Firefox don’t play well together and have no interest in sharing information with one another. They each want to be your exclusive web browser so if you’ve got one on your phone but use another on your work computer, there’s no synergy there whatsoever.
A second problem is derived from syncing. If you have a third-party password manager and you change your bank account password on your phone, your PC is going to be informed and make the same change instantaneously. Web browsers don’t have that capability. If you changed the password on your laptop and now you’re on your phone, it’s still going to have the old password locked in as the way things should be.
Let’s say you and your family love Netflix, but you only have one account. That means everyone has to share one password. You don’t want to write it down on a piece of paper, and texting, emailing, or instant messaging isn’t a good idea either. WIth select password managers like Dashlane, you can share the hidden password with family members or friends thanks to a built-in sharing feature. Web browsers do not have this option. Even if it’s a simple text message between husband and wife, you are still sending it through non-secure channels, and it could be intercepted anywhere along the way.