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What is difference, if any, between Firefox Privacy & Security option "USE A MASTER PASSWORD" and selecting the "master password for Firefox" Add-On?

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  • آخر ردّ كتبه cor-el

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Are these two "services" or "features" one and the same? Or, are they different for some reason? If I start using a master password (which one?) does it somehow know or remember the various different existing passwords that I currently use to access my banking and numerous other websites? Or, does the master password feature somehow randomly select / assign new passwords to each of my websites requiring a password? I primarily use a Windows PC to access the web. Occasionally I use an iPad to access websites requiring a password. If I start using a master password set up on my PC will I still have to remember and use each website's individual password if I want to access it from my iPad?

Are these two "services" or "features" one and the same? Or, are they different for some reason? If I start using a master password (which one?) does it somehow know or remember the various different existing passwords that I currently use to access my banking and numerous other websites? Or, does the master password feature somehow randomly select / assign new passwords to each of my websites requiring a password? I primarily use a Windows PC to access the web. Occasionally I use an iPad to access websites requiring a password. If I start using a master password set up on my PC will I still have to remember and use each website's individual password if I want to access it from my iPad?

All Replies (6)

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Extensions that are about the master password only deal with asking the MP on startup or possibly use the MP to store (form) data in the Password Manager. The master password is used to encrypt all data (username and password) stored in the Password Manager with an extra encryption level. Otherwise you would only need to place logins.json (encrypted data) and key3.db (encryption key) in another profile to access all passwords. The MP doesn't have effect on what password you use on web pages, but is a global encryption of the passwords. This means that if you forget the MP then your passwords can't be decrypted and are lost.

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Thank you for posting a response. However, it seems to me the response and comments do not address the questions that were asked. I am not a technical guru, but I do consider myself an above average business user of computers. Unfortunately, the response provided does not provide any assistance or guide as to whether I should, or should not use a master password feature; if yes, there is no guidance between the two alternatives specifically queried at the beginning; and the technical jargon about encrypted data is simply not relevant to a user who wants to understand the effect of actually using a master password.

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Can you clarify what you mean with the second choice "master password for Firefox" Add-On you mentioned.

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Thank you for your time. I did a Google search for "master password for Firefox" and this link appeared to be the most promising -

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/master-password/

That is what I was referring to in my original question / message re "master password for Firefox" Add-On.

I hope this clarifies the two "alternatives" I have found. What I am attempting to do is understand how a master password works, how it will impact my system, and what negative reviews / issues I should know before changing any settings on my PC. Being a self-employed one-person businessman I need to not only run my business but also be my own IT department. Not an easy second job! Thanks.

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DonBoomer said

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/master-password/

The first line of the description is:

Various enhancements for build-in "master password" (MP)

So it is not a substitute for the built-in feature, it's an add-on for it.

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Like I wrote above, the MP is used to encrypt the usernames and passwords when they are stored to the profile folder. That is why you need to remember and enter the correct MP when Firefox prompts you to enter it. The impact on your system is that when you use the MP then your passwords are much safer because without knowing or guessing the master password others won't be able to see/access the passwords. The extension you mentioned adds some features to suppress MP prompt if you visit website with saved login data, but do not want to login and bothered by a MP prompt. You can also use it in cases where you regularly walk away from your computer and want to logout of the software security device (i.e you need to reenter the MP to access the passwords).

You can see the current status if you open the Device Manager (Options/Preferences -> Privacy & Security -> Security Devices) via this chrome URI and select the Software Security Device in the left pane.

  • chrome://pippki/content/device_manager.xul