Google Chrome’s Insanely Open Password Security Strategy

Google Chrome’s Insanely Open Password Security Strategy

Chrome does something interesting when you first run it. The other day, I was using Chrome in development for an Ember.js app. I use Safari for day-to-day browsing, but it has a habit of aggressively caching files when I least expect it, so from time to time I switch to Chrome.

I decided to hit Chrome’s “Import bookmarks now” link and see whether I could import my bookmarklets from Safari, so things would be nice and consistent between the two browsers. I didn’t expect this:

This struck me as particularly odd. Why is “Saved passwords” greyed out, and mandatory? Why have a check-box? This is the illusion of choice. I think it’s deeply misleading, and this is why:

This is a page in Chrome’s settings panel:

See that “show” button? It does what you think it does.

There’s no master password, no security, not even a prompt that “these passwords are visible”. Visit

This dialog is even more misleading. By using words like “confidential information” and “stored in your keychain”, OSX describes the state of your saved password’s current security. It’s the very security Chrome is about to bypass, by displaying your passwords, in plain-text, outside your keychain, without requiring a password. When you visit a website, Chrome prompts for every password it can find for that domain.

Today, go up to somebody non-technical. Ask to borrow their computer. Visit

I bet you it won’t be “That’s how password management works”.

Update: Justin Schuh, head of Chrome security, says I’m wrong, and that this is not going to change.

This post first appeared on and is republished with kind permission. You can follow him on Twitter here.