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How to Protect Saved Passwords in Internet Explorer

One of the most convenient tools browsers offer is the ability to save your password automatically fill in forms prior to entry. Because so many sites require accounts and it is well known that the use of common password is the big no-no, password manager is almost essential.

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Even if you’re using IE and answer “yes” to allow the browser to remember your password, and how secure is this information?
Where are they saved?
Starting from the Internet Explorer 7, password is stored in the system registry (KEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Internet Explorer \ IntelliForms \ Storage2) and against the encrypted password to enter Windows user using the data protection API which using Triple DES encryption.

Simply put, if you can log on to Windows with the account and password, you can see the passwords stored in your browser. Using the freely available tool such as NirSoft IE PassView, you can view and export all IE saved password.

So that access to these malicious programs?
After seeing how easy it is to access these data, the next logical question is malicious software can easily get this data. I am not a developer of malware, but I do not see any reason why he cannot. If you scan IE PassView using virus total, you can see 55% of the scanners that use is to detect malicious software (one of which is security principals).

Think if your computer is stolen then what you can do? At the end of the day, the security of IE saved passwords is entirely dependent on the user:
• Use the Windows account password is very strong. Keep in mind, and there are facilities that can decrypt passwords and Windows. If someone gets your password in the Windows account then they have your passwords saved IE.
• Protect yourself from malware. If you are able to easily access the saved passwords, why cannot malware?
• Save your passwords in a password management system such as KeePass. Of course, you loose the convenience of having the browser auto-fill your passwords.
• Use 3rd party tool that integrates with IE and uses the master password to manage passwords.

Filed in: Computer Tips

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