Mozilla to add password manager, hack alert to Firefox 70

The browser upgrade, expected to launch in October, will warn users when their saved passwords have been revealed by a data breach.

Credit: IDG

Mozilla plans bake its Lockwise password manager into Firefox 70, the upgrade now set to launch Oct. 22.

At the same time, the browser will also be more tightly integrated with Firefox Monitor, which will provide warnings to users when their saved passwords have been revealed by a data hack.

According to Firefox bug reports and project documentation, Lockwise will automatically record username-and-password pairs, generate complex passwords on demand, identify victimized accounts and instruct users to change any passwords that have leaked.

Firefox UI mock-up Mozilla

In this UI mockup by Mozilla, Firefox's integrated Lockwise warns users that a breach affected an already-saved password with an alert icon (in the left-hand pane) and leads them to more information (the 'Learn About this Breach' information in yellow).

At the moment, only the Nightly version of Firefox - that's the least-polished, least-stable edition - includes the integrated Lockwise. (The release Firefox is now at version 68.) To access it in Nightly, users must type about:logins in the browser's address bar.

When creating a new login, users can enter a username as before, but now have Firefox crank out a password, just as dedicated third-party password managers - 1Password, for instance - do. In Firefox, right-clicking in the "Password" field and selecting "Use a Securely Generated Password" builds one. The resulting password - there was just one, a placeholder, as it didn't appear the functionality is yet live - included letters, both upper- and lowercase, and numbers.

Some of the password-related changes slated for Firefox 70 come courtesy of a marriage between Lockwise and Firefox Monitor. The latter arrived first - in November 2018 - as an in-browser notification when a user steers toward a site that has had a recent breach. Since its inception, Monitor has been the visible UI (user interface) for a partnership between Mozilla and the Have I Been Pwned? site and service. Lockwise, (née Lockbox), came in May as an add-on for desktop Firefox, following on already-in-action Android and iOS password managers from Mozilla.

The two work together, an interesting collaboration that no other browser has thought to mimic. While the Lockwise-Monitor combination in Firefox Nightly was free for the using, users shouldn't be surprised if Mozilla puts the pairing - or an even more feature filled version - behind a paywall. Mozilla has made no secret of its desire to boost revenue by selling subscriptions of some sort, probably to individual or a suite of services, that amplify the browser.

Firefox 70 is currently on Mozilla's release calendar as an Oct. 22 launch. Between now and then, Firefox 69 is to debut Sept. 3.

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Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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