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Chrome will tell you if your password was hacked, and help you change it

Published Oct 8th, 2020 6:50AM EDT
Chrome 86 Update
Image: Kyodo/Newscom/The Mega Agency

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  • Google rolled out Chrome 86 with a few important security upgrades, reaching feature parity between the desktop browser and the mobile versions of the app.
  • Chrome 86 will warn users across platforms (desktop, Android, iPhone) if their passwords were compromised in hacks, and offer them a speedy way to change them
  • The browser also brings Enhanced Safe Browsing to Android, and adds a biometric check on iOS for password autofilling.

Google released Chrome 86 across platforms with the exception of Chrome OS, where it will arrive next week. The new update brings over a few of useful features, including new security measures you’ll hopefully never have to worry about. Chrome on Android and iPhone will tell you whether a username/password combination was compromised, a feature that was first available on the desktop version. But the security feature is offering one extra step, a quick way to let you change the password that was just breached.

Whenever a big retail store or online service gets hacked, the attackers go for everything they can grab, whether it’s credit card data, user data, or passwords. The username/password combination is a highly prized type of loot, as hackers can then use the same combo against other services. Many people still use weak passwords, and the still recycle them. Several password managers let you set a unique, strong password for each separate online store, app, or service, that you won’t have to remember. Only one password matters, and that’s the one that opens the manager. Internet browsers like Chrome can also help you remember passwords, so you don’t necessarily have to pay for a premium password manager.

Once you update to Chrome 86 on Android and iPhone, the browser will warn you if the username and password you’ve just used for a site was breached at any point in the past. Google doesn’t get to see your username or password, it just uses a special form of encryption to match your data against the database of stolen credentials.
Telling people a password was breached is just half the job. Thankfully, Chrome 86 will also help you direct to the site’s page where you can change your password. That way, you can change your passwords as soon as you get breach alerts, rather than postponing it.

Chrome 86 also brings Enhanced Safe Browsing to Android, a feature that’s already available on the desktop. If enabled, Enhanced Safe Browsing will proactively protect users against phishing, malware, and dangerous sites. iPhone users are also getting a new security improvement that concerns password autofilling. You’ll now be prompted to authenticate the process via Face ID or Touch ID, depending on the device. Chrome now lets you autofill passwords in apps and other browsers if you enable the feature in Settings.

Google also announced a mixed warning feature for Chrome 86, which is now delayed for the next version. The feature will tell you whether a site combined secure HTTPS pages with insecure HTTP ones. Chrome 86 will also block downloads deemed insecure even if they come from secure pages.

On top of these safety features, Chrome 86 now delivers support for a Native File System API that will let you access the computer’s file system from the browser. Another minor addition concerns navigation inside Chrome, as Google is adding menu icons to Chrome 86 to make the whole process more intuitive.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.