It looks like Chromebooks could get a very useful new security update at some point, maybe even in the future. According to About Chromebooks, it’s still a work in progress, so Chrome OS users won’t see it right away.
The feature in question is a password strength indicator, which might not seem like a big deal since you’ve probably seen similar indicators in the past — this one would be built into the operating system itself. Like some account creation tools on websites (and some password managers), Chrome OS would create a kind of visual indication of the overall strength of a password.
Given the current state of development of this feature, it’s unclear exactly how it would turn out, but it would most likely adopt a similar approach to other password managers and indicators. This would be some form of colored indicator (red for weak password, yellow for good password, and green for strong password), possibly accompanied by some text explaining what improvements need to be made.
This feature is not yet available to the general public, but there is a way for users to get early access. All you need to know is the correct Chrome code.
The code isn’t yet available on the Chrome OS dev channel, but About Chromebooks says it can be redeemed with “
chrome://flags#password-strength-indicatoronce it becomes available. It should be released in the very near future, and trying to enable the feature now wouldn’t hurt.
One of the benefits of Chrome OS having its own recommendations for password strength is that not all websites offer the same courtesy when creating new accounts. And unless it’s a requirement, most of us aren’t very keen on thinking about creating a more complex password. Thus, more people could be encouraged to protect their accounts, a little bit better.
This also applies to existing passwords. Even if you’ve kept an account for years, the password strength meter will let you know if the one you’re using is weak or not when you try to change it for any reason. And if what you had planned isn’t considered strong enough, you can always update it with something a little harder to crack.
Likewise, as useful and recommended as password managers are, they are not used universally. Password management, combined with these incentives to use stronger passwords, is therefore another way to gradually improve users’ online security. Assuming they actually follow strong password recommendations, at least. It won’t do them much good if they ignore them.