Google Chrome: a Security Warning

Here’s a little something you might like to know about Google Chrome.

When travelling last year (2019) I had a lot of trouble accessing most of my online accounts, including email. The only exceptions: Twitter, Facebook and WordPress.

Being locked out of ALL email accounts was a major pain as any provider’s solution to the situation of a new log in is to email a code to a secondary email account.

Most frustrating was Dropbox, where its own point and purpose seemed thoroughly missed if unable to log in from another location (the response to me messaging directly to explain was to send an email to an account I couldn’t get into at the time to ask if I’d permanently lost access to it).

Most people reading will wonder what all the fuss is given having a phone is the simple solution. Unless you lose it. Or, like me, don’t have one. But none of that really changes the problem about to be highlighted here.

When needing to travel for a second time in 2019, I decided to solve the problem by linking my Google account to my partner’s phone. That way I could get a code sent to them, retrieve it over the phone, and hey presto have access to all my bookmarks and stored passwords in one fell swoop.

It worked.

Then the last morning of the trip, having checked flight times, all I had to do was sign out of the Google account and job done.

Or so I thought.

Early 2020 I returned to stay in the same place, the same laptop as before again lent to me.

It hadn’t been used in the interim, but if if had and didn’t belong to a trusted friend, I could’ve had some serious problems.

When I opened Chrome again, I found all the tabs open as left. Not the strangest thing in the world, expect despite having signed out of Google, I could still sign back in automatically to any of the accounts in question – Facebook, Twitter, emails, etc.

One of the tabs still open was from where I’d signed out of Google.

For the first time, I noticed the following message:

‘ Signed out – syncing is paused

Your bookmarks, history, passwords, and more are no longer being synced to your account but will remain on this device. Sign in to start syncing again.

Not what I was expecting at all, though not really a surprise it was missed given it was something like 5.30 am when logging out and being preoccupied with having to catch a flight, etc.

One could argue I should have paid more attention, etc, etc.

Except:

Not only were all my bookmarks still showing, those that had only been added since returning home were present too; one in particular to a new bank account.

Fortunately, I’d made a point of not saving both the card number and password, but the information I had told my PC back in Canada to save was also now present on the laptop in the UK (WITHOUT having to sign back into Google – just in case that aspect of things isn’t clear enough).

Thanks for reading 🙂

N. P. Ryan

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