Dedicated Password Manager vs. Browser Password Manager
The big-brand browsers that govern the market share are quickly catching on to offering password managers as an extension to their search platforms. Leading the pack in terms of the percentage of users is Chrome, Safari – largely for iOS users – and Mozilla Firefox (a distant 3rd spot).
One thing that they all have in common is the ability to use their search engines, not only as a browsing tool, but also to instantly save and store passwords via in-built extensions on their software platforms. One might think that this offers the ultimate convenience – but how do browser-based password managers really compare to third party password managers?
What do Browser Password Managers Offer?
Beyond having the capability to store passwords within the browser software – not much. Yes, the tech behind these are catching on in terms of security – with some browsers even having built-in password generators – but this is not enough.
The problem is that the browser-based systems do not offer comprehensive password management, nor do they share the safety standards of purposefully designed password managers – all of which are essential to maintain high-level security. Based on this, they’re not yet quite on par with some of the best password managers on the market.
Why Using a Web Browser Password Manager is Not Recommended
Software companies that exclusively develop password managers have one sole objective – and that is to deliver products that offer the ultimate solution to the many risks that online users are exposed to daily. These companies devote all their time and resources to perfect their software suites – it is not just a side-line project.
Web browser companies are more focussed on their main service, which is to offer a search engine. The ability to save and autofill passwords is merely an extension of that service. The same level of meticulous development doesn’t go into ensuring that their password managers are flawless, or that they offer much more than the basics.
For a password manager to be truly worth your while, there are certain software capabilities that are pertinent to making them viable to use. Unfortunately, browser password managers fall short on these abilities – and when compared to dedicated password managers, you’ll quickly see why it is best to refrain from using them altogether.
Security: Browser-Based vs. Dedicated Password Managers
As mentioned, albeit seeing a decent improvement in their security technology, I’m yet to see a browser-based password manager that knocks it out of the park. Chrome, as an example, has improved on their product security and introduced a ‘strong password generator’ – but at the end of the day, although the passwords are encrypted, it is the method of encryption and decryption that remains inferior.
In general, browser password managers mostly rely on whatever boundaries are in place on your OS. All it takes is for a malicious party to gain access to your OS user account and they’ll have free reign to install malicious extensions, access and intercept your browser history and activity, or even install software that can monitor your OS user account entirely, rendering you completely exposed.
The deep level of encryption and added security measures that are essential to truly keep your private data and user account activity safe is simply lacking in web browser password managers.
On the other hand, dedicated password managers utilize an intricate chain of encryption and decryption based on the latest technology. The encryption algorithms make data impenetrable, even in the event of someone gaining access to your OS.
With dedicated password managers, users are further protected with master passwords or passphrases, along with added 2FA or U2F. With end-to-end encryption – whether you opt for local or cloud storage – the actual data is never exposed and is thus much more secure.
Comparing the Functions & Features of Password Managers
The first major disadvantage of using browser password managers is that they aren’t as feature rich as third party dedicated password managers. There are elements that are crucial to maintaining true password security that browser password manager simply do not offer – of course, this starts with security, but there is more to it.
With dedicated password managers, you get more than an extension that simply saves and retrieves your stored passwords. In terms of password strength and security, these software suites help you improve on security, starting with what you choose as a password to begin with.
When using a top password manager, you’ll automatically be alerted if your chosen password is too weak, or whether it has been used before (since it’s best practice not to recycle old passwords). The software also comes standard with password generators (something that not all browser password managers offer). With the addition of built-in password generators, you can instantly generate completely random and unique passwords for each of your online and app accounts.
Dedicated password managers also offer much more than merely a place to store and retrieve passwords and usernames. You’ll get access to a comprehensive security system – or digital vault – to which only you have the key. Within this vault you are free to store everything from identity info, to financial details, private notes, addresses, etc.
Cross-Browser & App Compatibility
Another huge disadvantage of using a web browser password manager is that it restricts you to only store and autofill usernames and passwords within the respective browser itself. I.e. if you are using a certain web browser, and you’ve saved all your online account details within that browser, you’ll be unable to access the stored information on a different web browser.
This is where dedicated password managers offer incredible flexibility. With a single account, you can opt for autofill to apply to multiple web browsers. You can easily manage the details for all your online accounts within your password manager, and the information will promptly autofill across all enabled browsers.
Additionally, dedicated password managers are compatible with most Android and iOS apps. In a similar fashion to using autofill to complete usernames and passwords across online sites, these products will step in to secure your apps – and allow effortless access with the credentials safely stored in your password vault.
How to Switch to a Dedicated Password Manager
If you’re looking for a safe, secure and all-encompassing password manager, step away from using web browser password managers now, and look at what dedicated password managers have to offer instead. You might think that web browser password managers are convenient – but they do not come close to comparing with some of the top-rated password managers on the market.
With a dedicated password manager, you have a fail-safe system to store and retrieve passwords with autofill capabilities. You’ll furthermore have your own personal vault that will safeguard whatever sensitive data you need to keep from prying eyes – and away from digital threats.
Now that I’ve compared some of the key differences between dedicated password managers and web browser password managers, you can see why opting for the latter is ultimately the best way to go. Check out our recommended password managers and make the switch today.