Tue. Mar 5th, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Browsers prioritize convenience over security when it comes to password management, making it easier for hackers to steal your passwords.
  • Deleting saved passwords from old browsers is crucial to minimize the risk of data breaches and prevent storing duplicate copies of passwords.
  • Using a reputable third-party password manager like 1Password or BitWarden offers better security and convenience compared to relying on a browser’s built-in password manager.

You migrated to a new browser, but did you clean out the old one? Your old browser still contains passwords and other sensitive information that hackers are desperate to steal. Instead of leaving that old browser as an extra point of attack, you should delete its password data—don’t worry; this will only take a minute.

This Cybersecurity Awareness Week article is brought to you in association with Incogni.

Why Should You Delete Passwords from Old Browsers?

When it comes to password management, browsers prioritize convenience over security. They save encrypted passwords and decryption keys in predictable locations, meaning that any half-baked malware can steal your passwords in the blink of an eye. And if a hacker manages to break into the Google, Microsoft, or Firefox account associated with your browser, they can obtain your passwords without touching your computer or phone. Leaving yourself logged into the browser on somebody else’s computer could also lead to trouble.

Because browsers fail to properly protect your passwords, you need to delete the passwords from browsers that you aren’t using. Maybe you’ve switched from Chrome to Firefox—you didn’t delete the passwords from Chrome, so you now have two copies of your passwords stored on your computer and in the cloud. Instead of having just one weak point, you have two.

Note that this information also applies to credit card numbers, addresses, and other personal information that may be saved in your browser’s autofill system.

How to Delete Saved Passwords from a Browser

A master lock securing the latch on a storage unit
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

Deleting saved passwords from a browser will only take you a few minutes. You don’t need to uninstall your old browser or delete a bunch of files from your hard drive—in fact, you need to have the browser installed for this to work. The problem, of course, is that every browser is unique, so the deletion process can vary a bit. (If you haven’t already, please be sure to export the passwords from your old browser before deleting them forever.)

Here’s how to delete saved passwords from the most popular browsers. Click each browser’s name for detailed instructions on both exporting and deleting, if needed.

  • Chrome
    1. Open the Chrome browser on your computer.
    2. Select the Chrome profile that contains your passwords.
    3. Click the three-dot menu at the top-right of Chrome.
    4. Click “More Tools,” then “Clear Browsing Data,” and choose the “All Time” time range.
  • Firefox
    1. Open the Firefox browser on your computer.
    2. Click the menu button (the three horizontal lines) at the top-right of Firefox.
    3. Click “Passwords,” then open the three-dot menu at the top-right corner.
    4. Select “Remove all logins.”
  • Microsoft Edge
    1. Open Microsoft Edge on your computer.
    2. Click the three-dot menu at the top-right of Edge and select “Settings.”
    3. Select “Privacy and services,” scroll down and find the “Clear browsing data” section.
    4. Click “Choose what to clear.”
    5. Select the “All Time” time range and check the password box.

The instructions for deleting passwords in Chrome and Edge will also apply to other Chromium-based browsers, such as Brave and Opera. That said, you can find official instructions on deleting passwords from Brave, Opera, Vivaldi, and other browsers at their respective websites or support forums.

We aren’t including any instructions for Safari users, as Safari doesn’t have a built-in password manager. It relies on the iCloud Keychain, which is pretty secure. But if you aren’t using iCloud Keychain, it couldn’t hurt to remove your passwords from iCloud.

Start Using a Real Password Manager (If You Aren’t Already)

All browsers are vulnerable to password thieves. It doesn’t matter if you’re using Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or a lesser-known browser, like Brave. The only notable exception is Safari, which doesn’t have a built-in password manager and instead relies on the iCloud Keychain. (That said, iCloud Keychain is an attractive target for hackers, as it’s used by most Apple customers.)

You should stop using your browser’s built-in password manager. A third-party option from a respected company like 1Password, BitWarden, or NordPass will provide a greater level of security while still delivering convenience. These password managers use AES-256 encryption to protect your password database and prevent other people from decrypting your database on unauthorized machines. You don’t even need to pay for a password manager—there are plenty of good free options.

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By John P.

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