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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 58: Securely Save Website Passwords

Level Easy

Platform Firefox

Cost Free

One of the most convenient features in Firefox is its capability to save the passwords you use to log on to websites — such as your web mail and online banking — so that you don’t have to type them in every time. Those saved passwords automatically fill in as asterisks in the Password field, but did you know how easy it is to see what they are? In Firefox, choose Tools Options. In the Security tab, under Passwords, click the Show Passwords button. Then click the Show Passwords button in the dialog box — and there they are, all your high-security passwords in plain text and full sight.

Now consider how easy it would be for your Firefox-loving housemate to log onto your Gmail, or the computer-sharing temp at the office to get into your checking account, or for a laptop thief to log into your PayPal account. Not such a great feature anymore, eh? But fear not! You don’t have to go back to retyping your passwords every time you visit a login-only site.

This hack describes how to secure your saved passwords in Firefox without requiring you give up the convenience of those auto-filled login details.

Set a Master Password in Firefox

The master password is a single password that locks the rest of your saved passwords away from prying eyes. It’s a password you have to enter once a session — each time you restart Firefox.

To set your master password in Firefox, choose Tools Options and, on the Security tab, ...

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