Why Do Passwords Appear as Dots?

When you log in to a website or create an account, you may notice that the website will use dots when you enter your passwords.

Why do these dots appear when you enter your password? Does it make your password more secure? Do the dots protect you from hackers?

Let’s go over why your passwords are dots when you type them into websites.

What Are The Dots When You Type In Your Password?

The dots you see when you type in your passwords are called “masking.”

The purpose of the dots is to hide your password as you type each letter. Each dot represents a character you type, but that is the only thing known about the password.

Why Use Dots To Hide Passwords?

Hiding your password behind these dots keeps people who are looking over your shoulder from seeing your password.

This is super helpful if you’re in a public place or have someone next to you when you log in.

It doesn’t need to be an actual person next to you, but a security camera could also be watching especially if you’re in a public place.

Do The Dots Protect You From Hackers?

Besides protecting you from someone looking over your shoulder, the dots don’t offer any more protection.

If your computer is infected, the dots don’t do anything to protect you.

While they’re dots to you, the browser and the computer see the actual text so they can send it off to the website so you can log in.

There are even tricks you can do to remove the dots, but it requires going into the source code of that webpage. This can be helpful if the website doesn’t have a “show password” button.

Operating systems are getting better about secure textbox areas like the password fields. The macOS operating system blocks other applications from reading your keystrokes when you’re entering something into a secure field such as a password. While it won’t stop most malware, it’s a step in the right direction.

You can learn more ways to protect yourself from our post “15 Rules for Better Computer and Internet Security“.

Other Ways To Know Your Password?

While the dots on the screen keep someone from looking over your shoulder to see your password, it doesn’t stop the other ways someone can get your password.

If they’re already looking over your shoulder, they could simply look down at the keyboard while you type to figure out your password.

You can even go spy-like and use the sound of you hitting the keys on the keyboard to figure out your password.

The dots in the password field don’t offer much protection besides the “looking over your shoulder” situation, so why keep them around? I think it’s more of a habit; we’ve trained people to know the dots mean that is where you enter your password. The last thing you want is for the user to enter their password in the username field, as that is not always hashed or encrypted.

So the biggest reason we have the dots when you enter your password is just to signal that is where you enter your password. The dots are a reassuring cue to the user that this is the place to enter your password.

How To Secure Yourself With Passwords?

The best thing you can do to secure yourself regarding passwords is to use a password manager.

A password manager will save all your passwords and store them in one encrypted vault that uses your master password to encrypt them.

We have a video on how to get started with a password manager here.

If you don’t trust the password manager because of “keeping all your eggs in one basket,” then we have a solution for you here.

If password managers are not your thing, then a password book is the next best thing. Just make sure to use random passwords for every account.

The password manager is the best if you want to be the most secure. The password manager won’t fill the password unless you’re on the correct URL that matches what it has. The password manager will also fill the password so no one can hear or see you type your password.

Just make sure to write down your master password and other important information. We have a post here that goes over the password manager emergency sheet that you should set up.

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