There's a few questions here along these same lines already, but they're nearly a decade old. I'd like to know if things have changed, especially now that Chrome has become more aggressive about asking users to save their passwords, and those passwords being associated with a cloud account.
There's lots of rants against Chrome's current password saving policy, and lot's of articles warning against it. However, I don't know if I agree with them all.
Some obvious observations:
- If someone gets physical access to your machine, there's only the OS password between them and every password you've ever saved.
- Someone could potentially hack into your Google account, sign into Chrome, and also get access to all your passwords.
- There's no "master password" (outside of your OS password) to protect them if someone should get logged in access to your computer.
- According to HaveIBeenPwned I have had my email address and passwords shared online dozens of times thanks to hacks to websites. (Including big companies like Adobe, LinkedIn, Kickstarter, etc. and that's just the known hacks.) In that same time I've never had a computer stolen or been subject to a physical security breach.
- If I use a uniquely generated password on every website, and save them into Chrome, no other websites accounts will be made vulnerable from another website security breach.
- I probably trust Google to detect and protect me from unusual activity more than almost any other online service (which isn't to say they're infallible, obviously).
In terms of attack vectors, it seems that if you feel you're more likely to be open to a physical attack (or attack from someone you know), then saving passwords into a browser could be a very bad idea.
However if you're more likely to be susceptible to remote attacks by strangers, then having unique passwords stored on every website is likely to improve your personal information's security. (In any case that would obviously be the ideal, but security has to factor in practicality - and the average user isn't going to remember a unique password for every website.)
(I wonder if a better solution to Chrome's current one (which allows users to reuse easily guessed passwords across websites) would be to force (or encourage) the user to only save unique and complex passwords?)
What are the pros and cons of real-life scenarios? And is there any situation you would ever tell a user to save their online passwords in their browser?