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(Credit: Lance Whitney)

Website breaches seem to occur on a regular basis these days. How do you know if your own account has been hacked in a recent breach? Google has created a new tool for Chrome that can tell you just that.

SEE: The 5 Best Android Password Managers to Keep Safe Your Passwords

Accessible as an extension for Chrome, the Password Checkup tool will display a warning if you sign into a website with any of the more than 4 billion credentials that Google knows have been compromised. The warning identifies the website and also suggests that you change your password for that site.

Protecting yourself and your personal information on the Web is a challenge. You can create strong and unique passwords, use a password manager, and take other steps to secure yourself on the Web. But websites and online companies remain vulnerable to hackers, putting your accounts at risk. And such companies aren't always proactive at notifying you that a breach has occurred. Google's Password Checkup can at least alert you if your credentials have been hacked so you can change them and hopefully minimize the potential damage.

To set up Password Checkup in Google Chrome, browse to its page at the Chrome Web Store and click on the button to Add to Chrome. Now, when you sign into a website, Password Checkup will alert you if your credentials have been stolen. You can also click on the Password Checkup icon at anytime. If your username and password were hacked, you'll see the names of websites where the breach occurred. From there, you can change your username and/or password for the site in question. If you're in the clear, the extension will tell you that none of your recently used passwords were detected in a data breach.

Okay, but if this extension analyzes your usernames and passwords, aren't you exposing your credentials to Google itself? In a security blog post, the company explains how Password Checkup works, asserting that it was "designed jointly with cryptography experts at Stanford University to ensure that Google never learns your username or password."

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Takeaways

  1. Google's new Password Checkup tool will alert you if you sign into a website with a username and password that have been hacked.
  2. Password Checkup is accessible as an extension for Google's Chrome browser.

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Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books - "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time" and "Teach Yourself VISUALLY LinkedIn."