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Disable AutoComplete Password Storage

Stored Passwords Are A Security Risk

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Disable AutoComplete Password Storage
Wouldn't it be great if you didn't have to remember 25 different passwords? It can be very frustrating to sit down and try to access your bank web site, or your eBay account, or some other site you have registered for and try to remember which username and password you used for that account.

Internet Explorer offers a feature which can help solve this issue. Unfortunately, it is also a security risk. The AutoComplete feature in Internet Explorer can save Web addresses, form data, and access credentials such as usernames and passwords. This information will then be automatically entered every time you visit the site again.

The issue is that he credentials will also be automatically entered for anyone else who sits down at your computer and access those same sites. It defeats the purpose of having usernames and passwords if they are already automatically entered by your computer.

You can control what information the Internet Explorer AutoComplete feature stores, or turn off AutoComplete completely, by following these steps:

  1. In an Internet Explorer browser window, click on Tools
  2. Click on Internet Options
  3. On the Internet Options configuration console, click the Content tab.
  4. In the AutoComplete section, click on the Settings button
  5. You can select or de-select different types of information to store in AutoComplete:
    • Web addresses stores URL's that you type and automatically tries to complete them the next time so you don't have to type the whole thing each time.
    • Forms stores data such as your address and phone number to try to help populate form fields so you don't have to re-type the same information every time
    • User names and passwords on forms stores the usernames and passwords for sites you visit and automatically enters them when you visit the site again. There is a sub-option to check so that Internet Explorer will prompt you each time rather than automatically saving passwords. You can use this if you want to use the feature, but not save passwords for more sensitive sites such as your bank account.
  6. You can turn off AutoComplete entirely by de-selecting each box
Note: Even if you turn off AutoComplete, or just the option to save user names and passwords in AutoComplete, the passwords that have already been stored will remain. Go to the General tab and click the Delete button in the Browser History section to get rid of stored passwords.

Note: If an Administrator account is used to reset the Windows password for a user account, all stored information such as passwords will be erased. This is to prevent an Administrator from being able to gain access to your information by changing your password.

The AutoComplete feature seems like a nice idea. It is helpful to use the AutoComplete of Web addresses so that you only have to type in long URL's once and then Internet Explorer will remember them the next time. But, storing passwords in AutoComplete is a bad idea unless you have some other way of ensuring that nobody but you will ever have access to your computer.

If remembering usernames and passwords is a problem, I recommend disabling the AutoComplete feature and using one of the suggestions from Storing and Remembering Passwords Securely.

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