Remembering complicated passwords is a nightmare. That’s why saving passwords using your browser is so tempting. But there are inherent risks. While you can see your saved passwords, so can anyone else with access to your system.
No doubt, we’ve had a steady stream of data breaches. One clever site has been tracking hackers’ activities and it takes less than a minute to see if you’re already a victim. Tap or click here to check whether your account passwords are for sale on the Dark Web.
If you use Google Chrome, there is a terrific extension to add to your system. The Password Checkup Chrome extension automatically checks your sign in details against the 4 billion credentials that have been compromised in various data breaches. Tap or click here to get Google’s must-have password checker tool.
While you’re at it, it’s time to secure tech you might not think about as a potential in for hackers: Your TV. The FBI warns cybercriminals can use your TV as a backdoor into your router, or even take over the television and its built-in camera. Tap or click to learn how you can secure your TV from hackers.
How to reveal your saved passwords
Password managers create complicated strings of alphanumeric and special characters — and fill them in for you most of the time. Your browser’s built-in password creation tool takes these steps, too.
When autofill or your password manager inserts a password on your behalf, it usually shows up as dots or asterisks in online login fields. This tells you how many characters your password is, but doesn’t reveal the password.
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To actually see your passwords on your web browser, follow these steps:
● Right-click on the area where your password is filled in.
● Click “Inspect Element” or “Inspect” on the menu.
● You’ll see coding for the site. Find the line that starts with “input type=password”; you can type CTRL + F and put in “password” to make finding this easier for yourself.
● Double click to make the code text editable, and change the word “password” in the code to “text.” Hit the Enter key on your keyboard.
● Your password should now be revealed in the password box area.
Different browsers have different layouts for Inspect/Inspect Element, but they all work basically the same way, which is why this trick is so universal.
So this begs the question: How do you keep your passwords safe if it’s so easy to access on your web browser?
Protect your passwords from this hack
Hackers can’t usually use this insider trick unless they physically have access to your computer. That’s why one of the most important things you can do is put a strong password on your computer. Tap or click here for 7 steps to creating the perfect passwords.
Yes, you’ll delay accessing your computer by a few seconds every time it goes to sleep or you power it back on. On the upside, it’ll make it a lot harder for a thief or hacker to get into your web browser and find any autofill passwords stored.
MUST-DO TECH MAINTENANCE: If you’ve had your phone for a few months — or even longer — it needs a deep clean. Tap or click for a step-by-step guide to cleaning your phone inside and out.
Should I ditch autofill?
Now, you may be thinking another way to overcome this issue is not to use autofill. I still encourage the use of a password manager. The passwords they create are some of the safest you’ll find, and they’re incredibly convenient to use.
If you want to make your own passwords, there are rules to follow. For starters, create a complex combination of letters, numbers and alternating capitalization. In this case, a phrase like “Bingo123” would be much better off as “biNg01789.” As you can see, the casing is alternated among the letters and the numbers no longer follow an exact sequence.
BONUS TIP FOR EXTRA KNOW-HOW: How to spot money-stealing gas pump skimmers
Gas stations are some of the most popular locations for card skimmers — devices that can steal your credit or debit card information with a single swipe. This allows hackers to drain your bank account and max out your credit cards.
The next time you’re gassing up your vehicle, pay attention to the card reader. You don’t want to get duped. But what are you supposed to look for and how can you be sure your cards aren’t skimmed?
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.
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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.