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Thursday, 25 February 2021 09:31

Google offers feature on Android to check for compromised passwords

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Google offers feature on Android to check for compromised passwords Image by Prayad Kosasaeng from Pixabay

Google has extended a feature known as Password Checkup, originally available as an extension for its Chrome browser, to Android, with the mobile operating system including the feature from version 9 onwards.

A blog post from Google said once the feature was enabled, a password that was entered on an Android device would be checked against a database of known compromised credentials.

The user would be alerted if the password that had been entered was compromised, Android team software engineer Arvind Kumar Sugumar wrote.

"The prompt can also take you to your Password Manager page, where you can do a comprehensive review of your saved passwords," he wrote. "Password Checkup on Android apps is available on Android 9 and above, for users of Autofill with Google."

To enable Autofill, one has to go to the Settings app on an Android system, then click on Additional Settings, Keyboard & input method and Autofill service. Under that option, one had to check the selection for Google.

Sugumar said the Autofill option was built to have access to user credentials only if user had saved the same to his/her Google account, or if the user was offered a new credential to be saved and then proceeded to accept this choice.

"When the user interacts with a credential by either filling it into a form or saving it for the first time, we use the same privacy preserving API that powers the feature in Chrome to check if the credential is part of the list of known compromised passwords tracked by Google," Sugumar wrote

"This implementation ensures that:

  • "Only an encrypted hash of the credential leaves the device (the first 3.25 bytes of the hashed username are sent unencrypted to partition the database);
  • "The server returns a list of encrypted hashes of known breached credentials that share the same prefix;
  • "The actual determination of whether the credential has been breached happens locally on the user’s device; and
  • "The server (Google) does not have access to the unencrypted hash of the user’s password and the client (User) does not have access to the list of unencrypted hashes of potentially breached credentials."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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