Google Chrome Might Soon Alert You About Weak Passwords

It's looking like Chromebooks could be getting a useful new security update at some point in the future — possibly. According to About Chromebooks, it's still a work-in-progress, so ChromeOS users won't be seeing it quite yet.

The feature in question is a password strength indicator, which may not sound significant since you've likely seen similar indicators before — this one would be built into the operating system itself. Similar to some website account creation tools (and some password managers), ChromeOS would create some kind of visual indication of a password's overall strength.

Given the current state of the feature's development, it's not entirely clear exactly how this would appear in action, but it would most likely take a similar approach to other password managers and indicators. Meaning some form of colored indicator (like red for weak, yellow for okay, and green for strong), possibly with accompanying text to further explain what improvements could be made. 

This feature isn't yet available to the general public, but there is a way for users to gain access in a preview-style fashion. All you need to know is the right Chrome code.

Why would anyone need password strength notifications in their OS?

It's not currently available on the ChromeOS developer channel yet, but About Chromebooks says the code can be enabled with "chrome://flags#password-strength-indicator" once it's out. It should be released in the very near future, and attempting to activate the feature now wouldn't hurt, even if you're still early.

One benefit to ChromeOS making its own password strength recommendations is that not every website offers the same courtesy when new accounts are created. And unless it's a requirement, most of us aren't very likely to put too much thought into making a more complex password. This way, more people could be encouraged to protect their accounts just a little bit better.

This extends to already existing passwords as well. Even if you've held onto an account for years, the password strength indicator will let you know if what you're using is weak or not when you attempt to change it for any reason. And if what you had planned isn't considered strong enough, you can always update it to something a bit tougher to crack.

Similarly, as useful and highly recommended as password managers are, they aren't being used universally. So password management coupled with these nudges to use stronger passwords act as another way to incrementally improve users' online safety. Assuming they actually follow the guidance of the strong password recommendations, anyway. It won't do them much good if they ignore it.