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This new Proton Pass feature might get you to switch from your password manager

Published May 6th, 2024 7:07PM EDT
Proton Pass's new Pass Monitor security feature.
Image: Proton

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The first thing I install on any new device, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, or computer, is a premium password manager, even if that device comes with one preloaded. I’ve explained time and time again how crucial it is to have a service like 1Password or Proton Pass.

Password managers save all your credentials securely, so you don’t have to reuse the same bad password for everything from Netflix to Facebook and your bank accounts. They can also easily generate strong passwords, and they support two-factor authentication (2FA). The best part is you only have to remember one strong password to get into your password manager account. Then, you can use the app to automatically enter login credentials for all your other accounts.

But no matter how much I write about these apps, I’m sure many people would prefer to just reuse passwords with multiple digital properties. Others might ditch password managers and try to remember every single password. I was one of those people before I made the switch all those years ago.

That’s why I think Proton Pass’s new Pass Monitor security feature might be just what the doctor ordered for users who have yet to really embrace these apps. It can also help those people who are too lazy to change weak passwords in favor of stronger ones.

As you can see in the company’s announcement, Pass Monitor will search the dark web for leaked login credentials. It’ll also look at your passwords and tell you which ones you should replace because they’re too weak. The Swiss software developer just added the feature, and Pass Monitor will roll out to all Proton Pass users, including customers on the free version.

What Proton is doing isn’t entirely new. 1Password has its own “Watchtower” feature, which will inform you about potential data breaches that might impact your accounts. But Proton is doing things differently, including making some Pass Monitor features available to users on the free tier. 1Password doesn’t even offer a free option, let alone a free tier that’s as feature-rich as Proton’s.

Proton recently announced the Dark Web Monitoring feature that will search the dark web for leaked credentials from data breaches. Pass Monitor builds on that with one big difference. It will check all email addresses associated with your account, including hide-my-email addresses you might make with Proton Pass.

Dark Web Monitoring in Proton Pass.
Dark Web Monitoring in Proton Pass. Image source: Proton

When it finds emails involved in data breaches, it prompts you to take action. This will usually mean changing your login passwords for some web accounts. Other actions might be required, depending on how critical the account was hit. Think credit monitoring if hackers were able to obtain personal data that could lead to identity theft.

Proton alerts will include plenty of information about the potential breach. The app will tell you which emails were compromised, the source of the breach, and the date.

Password health checkup

Pass Monitor also takes proactive action by looking at your logins before hacks occur. This is what Proton calls Password Health. It’ll point out weak passwords and encourage you to change them to stronger ones. It’ll also find recycled passwords, which is the worst thing you can do with your credentials. Hackers only need to breach one username-password combination, and they’ll then try to use it in other places, hoping you’ve reused the same credentials.

Finally, Proton Pass will point out services that offer 2FA authentication, and it’ll alert you if you haven’t enabled the feature. With 2FA turned on, it’s much more difficult for hackers to take over your account.

Of note, Proton Pass will perform these Password Health checkups on the device without sending the data to Proton’s servers.

The Password Health feature in Pass Monitor.
The Password Health feature in Pass Monitor. Image source: Proton

Password Health will be available for free to all Proton users, but you’ll need a premium subscription to also get Dark Web Monitoring support.

At the very least, you should try a free Proton Pass account to audit your passwords. Whether you’ve just discovered password manager apps or you’re a veteran, the app can help you quickly identify your bad password practices and take action. Once that’s done, you’ll hopefully avoid repeating the same mistakes.

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.