Google Password Manager is a handy option for storing your passwords with the Google Chrome browser. You can access these passwords on all your devices. In addition to saving and auto-filling passwords, the Password Manager can also create unique, strong passwords for you.
But when storing passwords with any password manager, you have to think about their security. One way to make your password storing with Google Password Manager more secure is by using On-Device Encryption. Let’s dive in.
What is On-Device Encryption?
Encryption is a technique that scrambles the information in a way that it is impossible to read it without a key. Your passwords are normally stored in your Google account after standard encryption when you use Google Password Manager. With standard encryption, Google encrypts your passwords when you save them to Google or when they’re sent over any network.
But in this case, the encryption key is saved in your Google account and you’re trusting Google to keep it safe. Google uses this key to decrypt the password either when you need to log in to a website or when Google runs the Password Checkup.
But with on-device encryption, your passwords are encrypted on the device itself before they’re saved to Google Password Manager. And only you have the key; not even Google has it. So, when you need to use a password saved in the password manager, you’ll need to provide the key. Once Google verifies that the key is correct, they unlock the password, i.e., they unencrypt it.
So, on-device encryption adds a layer of protection to your passwords. The “key” to encrypt/ decrypt the passwords can be your Google account password or the screen/ device lock password for compatible devices.
But remember that when you use on-device encryption for your passwords, you’ll lose access to your passwords if you lose the key.
Note: Once you enable on-device encryption for your passwords, the feature can’t be turned off.
When you have on-device encryption enabled, some websites might not sign you in automatically. More importantly, once you enable on-device encryption, Google won’t be able to run Password Checkup to assess the security of your passwords automatically, since they won’t have the key to decrypt them. The responsibility would fall upon you and you’ll have to manually run Password Checkup.
Enable On-Device Encryption
You can enable On-Device Encryption from either your desktop or mobile phone; it hardly takes a minute. For this guide, we’ll be showcasing the process from the desktop.
Open the Google Chrome browser on your computer. Then, click the three-dot menu at the right end of the address bar.
Select ‘Settings’ from the menu.
Click the option for ‘Manage your Google account’.
Settings for your Google account will open in a new tab. Go to ‘Security’ from the navigation menu on the left.
On the right pane, scroll down and click the option for ‘Password Manager’ under the Signing in to other sites section.
Click the ‘Setting’ icon on the password manager page.
Under ‘On-Device Encryption’, click ‘Set Up’.
Click ‘Next’ to proceed.
Finally, click ‘Set up’ to enable On-Device Encryption.
Then, enter the password for your Google account to verify that it’s you and click ‘Next’. To reiterate, if you forget your Google password, you might lose access to all your passwords in the Password Manager. Once you complete this step, on-device encryption will be enabled and you can’t cancel, go back or turn it off.
It’ll take a couple of seconds for Google to change the type of encryption. Once it’s done, you’ll be able to use your device as a key to unlock your passwords. Click ‘Done’ to return to settings.
Password Availability on Other Devices
The most common question people have when enabling On-Device Encryption is whether the passwords will be available on devices other than the one they use to enable encryption. But there’s no need to worry; your passwords are available on all your devices. You’ll simply need to enter the password for your Google account or the screen lock password of your device to access them.
Recovering your Passwords
After enabling on-device encryption, you should add password recovery options to your Google account. Password recovery options can help you recover your saved passwords in case you forget your Google password or lose your phone or computer. If you change the password for your Google account, the passwords in the Google Password Manager will remain inaccessible until you confirm the new password. Google recommends confirming the new password for the Password manager right away to avoid any issues.
Google also recommends syncing your passwords to multiple devices so that even if you lose access to one device, you’ll have access to your passwords on another device.
On-Device Encryption is a great way to secure the passwords in Google Password Manager so no one else but you can view them. It only takes a minute to enable on-device encryption. Moreover, in the future, Google plans to make it the default encryption standard for everyone. So, by enabling it now, you’ll simply be stepping into the future before everyone else.