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Technology

Chrome’s password leak protection alerts you when your login has been hacked

Americans are not very careful about their passwords. Even with the growing number of large data breaches, it’s hard to get people to strengthen their passwords.

But Google Chrome has been working to fix that. Earlier this year, it began offering an extension that checks your passwords against known leaked databases. Tap or click to see if your password was part of a data leak. Now, Chrome is taking that task one step further.

With help from Chrome’sPassword Checkup, you can be on your way to a safer browsing experience. We’ll also offer you tips on protecting yourself if you discover your information has been breached.

Chrome’s protections

Google’s Chrome extension Password Checkup automatically scanned your passwords as you entered them.

If the password matched an exposed password, you’d receive an alert to change it, as well as a few suggestions on how to make your new password more secure. In its first month, Google stated the extension scanned 21 million usernames and passwords and flagged more than 316,000 as unsafe.

But now, the extension is built into the browser, so even those who were previously unaware of Password Checkup can benefit from it. Password Checkup notifies users when they are logging in to sites with usernames and passwords that have been exposed by breaches.

All users have to do is log in to Chrome, and tap their icon on the top right corner. Choose Manage your Google Account, then click Security. Scroll all the way down to Password Manager and click it. Next, click “Check passwords.” A new window opens and you need to click Check passwords again.

You will need to input your Google password to verify it’s you, then it will tell you whether you have any compromised passwords, how many are the same and whether any are weak.

Google Chrome isn’t the first browser to offer an online safety tool. Firefox beat Chrome to the punch a year ago.

Firefox Monitor is a free service that helps users find out whether their accounts have been exposed in a data breach. It’s the result of a partnership between Have I been Pwned? and Mozilla. Tap or click here to learn more about Firefox Monitor.

Have I Been Pwned? is a website that allows consumers to check if their personal data has been compromised in a data breach. Firefox Monitor is not part of the Firefox browser and you must sign up for it separately.

Related: Create easy-to-remember, yet super-tough passwords

Data breaches don’t spark many password changes

In a study of its Password Checkup extension, Google estimates 1.5% of all logins have been exposed in data breaches; however, only 26% of users who were alerted about the breaches changed their passwords.

That’s mind-boggling when you see a huge increase of data breaches from year to year. Tap or click to see how a Microsoft breach exposed 250 million at the beginning of the year.

To protect yourself before you’re caught in a data breach, change your online account passwords every three months. Also, use new and different passwords for each account because if one gets breached, that could compromise all of your accounts.

If your data has been exposed in a data breach, here’s what you can do:

  • Be on the lookout for phishing scams. Hackers will create emails pretending to be the affected company in hopes of getting you to click on malicious links. If the email provides a link back to the company, don’t click on it. Type the company’s actual URL on your browser to avoid a spoof site.
  • Frequently check your bank statements for signs of suspicious activity. If you see anything strange, report it immediately.
  • If you see suspicious activity on your credit cards, call your credit card company and put a freeze on your accounts as soon as possible.
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