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Master password

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-A Master Password protects access to your stored passwords in the [[Password Manager]]. You can access the Password Manager via "[[Menu differences in Windows, Linux, and Mac|Tools > Options]] > Security: Passwords: Show Passwords". The use of a Master password is highly recommended to protect your passwords. Using a Master password is not selected by default. You need to set one, see "Setting a master password" below for how to do that. You can see the ''Master password'' as a way to authenticate who you are to the ''Software Security Device'' just like you do to a server on a web site: you log in to a web site and enter your credentials and you do the same if supply the ''Master password''.+The [[Password_Manager | Password Manager]] can be used to automatically fill in the username/password needed to access web sites and log into mail servers. However, it stores the passwords unencrypted in a database file in the profile. The passwords can be easily viewed using Firefox or Thunderbird menu commands. If you step away from your PC for a moment it only takes about 15 seconds for somebody else to see your passwords. Its recommended that you set a master password if anybody else has physical access to your PC. If you do that the passwords will be stored encrypted, and anyone using your [[profile]] will be prompted to enter the master password when access to the stored passwords is needed. Its also a good idea if you installed [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S/MIME S/MIME] certificates.
-If you supply the ''Master password'' in the popup window that you see if the Master password is needed then you log in to the ''Software Security Device'' (In Firefox 2/3: "[[Menu differences in Windows, Linux, and Mac|Tools > Options]] > Advanced > Encryption: Certificates: Security Devices: Software Security Device"). If you select the ''Software Security Device'' then you notice an enabled '''Log Out''' button if you are logged on, otherwise the '''Log In''' button is enabled in that window.<br/>+However, a master password will not prevent anybody else from reading locally stored e-mails, reading your browsing history, or from accessing sites the browser is already logged in to. Alternatives to the built-in Password Manager such as [http://keepass.info/ Keepass] or [https://lastpass.com/ Lastpass] provide their own implementation of a master password.
-Access to the encrypted names and passwords is possible as long as you are logged on to the ''Software Security Device'' and you need to log out to prevent others from accessing that data if you leave your computer unattended.+
-"Tools > Clear Private Data : Authenticated sessions" does the same, but also additionally will log you out of secure web sites. You may need to clear the cookies to log out of other sites.+
-Stored passwords can include webmail and forum account information for browsers and e-mail server passwords for mail readers. By setting a Master Password, anyone using your profile will be prompted to enter the Master Password when access to your stored passwords is needed. You will also need to setup a master password if you wish to install [[wikipedia:S/MIME | S/MIME]] certificates.+If you decide to set a master password write down a copy of your passwords somewhere safe beforehand. Its usually trouble free, but if you run into a problem with the master password frequently the only workaround is to delete it, which will delete the stored passwords.
-A Master Password will not prevent others from reading locally stored e-mails, reading your browsing history, or from accessing sites the browser is already logged in to. +==Using a master password==
 +Using a master password is not selected by default; you will need to set one in the [[Password Manager]], as explained below under [[#Setting a master password|Setting a master password]]. You can view using a master password as a way to authenticate who you are to the ''Software Security Device'', just as you do with a server on a web site: you log into a web site and enter your credentials and you do the same if supplying the master password.
 + 
 +If you supply the ''Master Password'' in the popup window that you see if a master password is needed, then you log in to the ''Software Security Device'' (Firefox uses: "[[Menu differences in Windows, Linux, and Mac|Tools -> Options]] -> Advanced -> Encryption: Certificates: Security Devices: Software Security Device"). If you select the ''Software Security Device'' then you notice an enabled "Log Out" button if you are logged on, otherwise the "Log In" button is enabled in that window.
 +Access to the encrypted names and passwords is possible as long as you are logged on to the ''Software Security Device'' and you need to log out to prevent others from accessing that data if you leave your computer unattended.
 +"Tools > Clear Private Data : Authenticated sessions" does the same, but also additionally will log you out of secure web sites. You may need to clear the [[cookies]] to log out of other sites.
==Setting a master password== ==Setting a master password==
-''Firefox 1.5.x and Thunderbird 1.5.x can't store international characters in Master Passwords. If you use these versions and want to use Master Passwords, use only Latin (A-Z, 0-9) characters.[https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=252436]''+* Firefox: "[[Menu differences in Windows, Linux, and Mac|Tools -> Options]] -> Security / Passwords -> Use a master password"
 +* Thunderbird: "[[Menu differences in Windows, Linux, and Mac|Tools -> Options]] -> Privacy -> Passwords -> Set Master Password"
 +* Mozilla Suite/SeaMonkey: "[[Menu differences in Windows, Linux, and Mac|Edit -> Preferences]] -> Privacy & Security -> Master Passwords -> Change Password"
 + 
 +Make sure that you are able to remember or otherwise retrieve the master password you choose. For security reasons, you will need to supply your current master password before you can change or remove it.
 + 
 +===Changing your master password===
 +*Firefox: "Tools -> Options -> Security / Passwords -> Change Master Password"
 +*Thunderbird: "Tools -> Options -> Privacy -> Passwords -> Change Master Password" (not shown unless a master password is set)
 +*Mozilla Suite/SeaMonkey: "[[Menu differences in Windows, Linux, and Mac|Edit -> Preferences]] -> Privacy & Security -> Master Passwords -> Change Password"
 + 
 +===Removing your master password===
 +* Firefox: "[[Menu differences in Windows, Linux, and Mac|Tools -> Options]] -> Security / Passwords -> Uncheck "Use a master password". You will be prompted for your Master Password.
 +* Thunderbird: "Tools -> Options -> Security -> Passwords -> Change Master Password"
 + 
 +==Resetting the master password==
 + 
 +If you have lost or forgotten your master password or you want to disable the feature, you can reset the master password. '''Resetting the master password will remove all stored password information.''' Upon resetting, you will lose all the stored information in the Password Manager, as this is a built-in security feature to prevent people from simply resetting your Master Password to gain access to your passwords.
-* Firefox 1.5: "[[Menu differences in Windows, Linux, and Mac|Tools -> Options]] -> Privacy -> Saved Passwords -> Set Master Password".+* Firefox: Enter <code>chrome://pippki/content/resetpassword.xul</code> into the Location Bar (address bar), press the "Enter" key and click "Reset".
-* Firefox 2.0: "[[Menu differences in Windows, Linux, and Mac|Tools -> Options]] -> Security -> Passwords".+* Thunderbird: Choose Tools ->Developer Tools-> Error Console, paste the expression: <code>openDialog("chrome://pippki/content/resetpassword.xul")</code> and press the Evaluate button. That will open a dialog asking you if you want to reset your password.
-* Thunderbird 1.5: "[[Menu differences in Windows, Linux, and Mac|Tools -> Options]] -> Privacy -> Passwords -> Set Master Password".+* Mozilla Suite/SeaMonkey: "[[Menu differences in Windows, Linux, and Mac|Edit -> Preferences]] -> Privacy & Security -> Master Passwords -> Reset Password".
-* Mozilla Suite: "Edit -> Preferences -> Privacy & Security -> Master Passwords -> Change Password".+
-==Removing your master password==+==Asked for a master password despite never setting one==
-* Firefox 1.5: "[[Menu differences in Windows, Linux, and Mac|Tools -> Options]] -> Privacy -> Passwords -> Remove Master Password"+===Firefox===
-* Firefox 2.0: "[[Menu differences in Windows, Linux, and Mac|Tools -> Options]] -> Security -> Passwords -> Uncheck "Use a master password". You will be prompted for your Master Password.+Sometimes when you install Firefox and import passwords from a Mozilla Suite or SeaMonkey profile that causes Firefox to think you set a master password even though you never created one. [http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?t=110487]. If this happens, [[#Resetting the master password|reset the master password]] as explained above.
-* Thunderbird: "Tools -> Options -> Privacy -> Passwords -> Remove Master Password"+
-If you have lost or forgotten your Master Password or you want to disable the feature, you can reset your master password. Upon resetting, you will lose all the stored information in the Password Manager as this is a built-in security feature to prevent people from simply resetting your Master Password to gain access to your passwords.<br/> For Firefox you can also look at the Troubleshooting section in [[Password Manager]].+If that doesn't work exit Firefox and delete the encryption keys ([[key3.db]]), the saved names and passwords (logins.json and any signons*.* files that might have been created by previous Firefox versions) in your [[Profile_folder_-_Firefox | profile]]. If that doesn't work see [[Password_Manager#Troubleshooting]].
-* Firefox: Enter "chrome://pippki/content/resetpassword.xul" in the Location Bar, press Enter, then click "Reset"+===Thunderbird===
-* Thunderbird 1.5: "[[Menu differences in Windows, Linux, and Mac|Tools -> Options]] -> Advanced -> Saved Passwords -> Master Password -> Reset Password". +There is a [https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=506638#c57 known bug] that sometimes occurs when updating from 2.0.0.24 to Thunderbird 3.* that causes Thunderbird to think you set a master password even though you never created one. If this happens, try [[#Resetting the master password|resetting the master password]] as explained above. If that doesn't work exit Thunderbird and delete the key3.db file in your [[Profile_folder_-_Thunderbird | profile]].
-* Thunderbird 2: Choose Tools &ndash; Error Console, paste the expression: <code>openDialog("chrome://pippki/content/resetpassword.xul")</code> and press the Evaluate button. That will open a dialog asking you if you want to reset your password.+
-* For Mozilla Suite: "Edit -> Preferences -> Privacy & Security -> Master Passwords -> Reset Password".+
-==Issues==+==External links==
-Upon initial installation, Firefox sometimes believes it has a master password in effect and the user is unable to change it using "[[Menu differences in Windows, Linux, and Mac|Tools -> Options]] -> Privacy -> Saved Passwords -> Change Master Password" because the set master password is unknown to the user [http://forums.mozillanews.org/index.php?board=4;action=display;threadid=435] [http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?t=110487]. This situation sometimes occurs when Mozilla Suite profile's passwords are imported into Firefox at install time. If this happens, remove your master password as explained above.+
 +*The StartupMaster add-on for [https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/thunderbird/addon/startupmaster/ Thunderbird] and [https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/startupmaster/ Firefox] supposedly works around a bug where you are prompted for the master password multiple times.
 +*[http://support.mozilla.com/kb/Protecting+stored+passwords+using+a+master+password Protecting stored passwords using a master password (Firefox Support)]
 +*[http://support.mozilla.com/kb/Forgot+my+master+password Forgot my master password (Firefox Support)]
 +*[https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=995268 Firefox Sync and Master Passwords are now mutually exclusive] bug report
 +*[https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1176399 Multiple requests for master password when GMail OAuth2 is enabled] bug report (Thunderbird)
[[Category:Issues (Firefox)]] [[Category:Issues (Firefox)]]
[[Category:Privacy and security]] [[Category:Privacy and security]]
[[Category:Privacy and security (Thunderbird)]] [[Category:Privacy and security (Thunderbird)]]

Current revision

The Password Manager can be used to automatically fill in the username/password needed to access web sites and log into mail servers. However, it stores the passwords unencrypted in a database file in the profile. The passwords can be easily viewed using Firefox or Thunderbird menu commands. If you step away from your PC for a moment it only takes about 15 seconds for somebody else to see your passwords. Its recommended that you set a master password if anybody else has physical access to your PC. If you do that the passwords will be stored encrypted, and anyone using your profile will be prompted to enter the master password when access to the stored passwords is needed. Its also a good idea if you installed S/MIME certificates.

However, a master password will not prevent anybody else from reading locally stored e-mails, reading your browsing history, or from accessing sites the browser is already logged in to. Alternatives to the built-in Password Manager such as Keepass or Lastpass provide their own implementation of a master password.

If you decide to set a master password write down a copy of your passwords somewhere safe beforehand. Its usually trouble free, but if you run into a problem with the master password frequently the only workaround is to delete it, which will delete the stored passwords.

Contents

Using a master password

Using a master password is not selected by default; you will need to set one in the Password Manager, as explained below under Setting a master password. You can view using a master password as a way to authenticate who you are to the Software Security Device, just as you do with a server on a web site: you log into a web site and enter your credentials and you do the same if supplying the master password.

If you supply the Master Password in the popup window that you see if a master password is needed, then you log in to the Software Security Device (Firefox uses: "Tools -> Options -> Advanced -> Encryption: Certificates: Security Devices: Software Security Device"). If you select the Software Security Device then you notice an enabled "Log Out" button if you are logged on, otherwise the "Log In" button is enabled in that window. Access to the encrypted names and passwords is possible as long as you are logged on to the Software Security Device and you need to log out to prevent others from accessing that data if you leave your computer unattended. "Tools > Clear Private Data : Authenticated sessions" does the same, but also additionally will log you out of secure web sites. You may need to clear the cookies to log out of other sites.

Setting a master password

  • Firefox: "Tools -> Options -> Security / Passwords -> Use a master password"
  • Thunderbird: "Tools -> Options -> Privacy -> Passwords -> Set Master Password"
  • Mozilla Suite/SeaMonkey: "Edit -> Preferences -> Privacy & Security -> Master Passwords -> Change Password"

Make sure that you are able to remember or otherwise retrieve the master password you choose. For security reasons, you will need to supply your current master password before you can change or remove it.

Changing your master password

  • Firefox: "Tools -> Options -> Security / Passwords -> Change Master Password"
  • Thunderbird: "Tools -> Options -> Privacy -> Passwords -> Change Master Password" (not shown unless a master password is set)
  • Mozilla Suite/SeaMonkey: "Edit -> Preferences -> Privacy & Security -> Master Passwords -> Change Password"

Removing your master password

  • Firefox: "Tools -> Options -> Security / Passwords -> Uncheck "Use a master password". You will be prompted for your Master Password.
  • Thunderbird: "Tools -> Options -> Security -> Passwords -> Change Master Password"

Resetting the master password

If you have lost or forgotten your master password or you want to disable the feature, you can reset the master password. Resetting the master password will remove all stored password information. Upon resetting, you will lose all the stored information in the Password Manager, as this is a built-in security feature to prevent people from simply resetting your Master Password to gain access to your passwords.

  • Firefox: Enter chrome://pippki/content/resetpassword.xul into the Location Bar (address bar), press the "Enter" key and click "Reset".
  • Thunderbird: Choose Tools ->Developer Tools-> Error Console, paste the expression: openDialog("chrome://pippki/content/resetpassword.xul") and press the Evaluate button. That will open a dialog asking you if you want to reset your password.
  • Mozilla Suite/SeaMonkey: "Edit -> Preferences -> Privacy & Security -> Master Passwords -> Reset Password".

Asked for a master password despite never setting one

Firefox

Sometimes when you install Firefox and import passwords from a Mozilla Suite or SeaMonkey profile that causes Firefox to think you set a master password even though you never created one. [1]. If this happens, reset the master password as explained above.

If that doesn't work exit Firefox and delete the encryption keys (key3.db), the saved names and passwords (logins.json and any signons*.* files that might have been created by previous Firefox versions) in your profile. If that doesn't work see Password_Manager#Troubleshooting.

Thunderbird

There is a known bug that sometimes occurs when updating from 2.0.0.24 to Thunderbird 3.* that causes Thunderbird to think you set a master password even though you never created one. If this happens, try resetting the master password as explained above. If that doesn't work exit Thunderbird and delete the key3.db file in your profile.

External links