Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Strange Happenings In Firefox

I use Firefox. I also use the password manager along with the password exporter plugin.
But the other night I was in a panic. I recently signed up at a few new sites and didn't export my newest password list.
And when I went to a site that I've been a member of for a long while my user name and password didn't appear!

And when I went to view my password list inside Firefox, it was empty!
Uh Oh! Now what?

So I take a look around Google and see there was a bug due to a problem with a Linux file. But that bug was a bit old and all was supposedly fixed.
I also came across some articles that mentioned what files stored the user names and passwords. The data would be encrypted but I figured that I could try a few things with them.

First, I could check the file sizes and verify if indeed they held my data or where actual zero byte toast.
Secondly, I figured I could save a copy elsewhere, reinstall Firefox then put these files back in place. This solution didn't thrill me because I felt that the encryption was based on an algorithm generated when Firefox was installed.
But I was willing to give it a try since I did have the key file.

So I copied the files to a new location, saved off my bookmarks and was ready to uninstall Firefox. But something told me to try a reboot first.
So I rebooted the computer and sure enough, my user names and passwords returned. I immediately exported the list just in case it happened again.

And it did! The following evening I had it happen again. Funny thing about all this. Both times it happened was at the same forum. Both times I went to log in at the same forum and both times I temporarily lost my user name and password list. Hasn't happened since but I now make sure to export my password list every time I sign up at a new site.

And if you are wondering about the reputation of the forum and possible games by the owner. Uh-Uh! Not there. It is one of the strictest forums I have ever been a member of.
Don't even think of asking how to recover your lost Windows password or anything else like that. Not allowed.

And in case you were wondering about those 2 files?
Open you home folder and view hidden files.
Now look for the .mozilla/firefox folder.
Open the abcxyz.default folder were abcxyz will be some mix of letters and numbers created when you installed Firefox.

Now look for the key3.db file. This is the encryption file.
Now grab the signons3.txt file. This contains your user names and passwords.



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