Let’s face it – all of us re-use our passwords across different systems, and most use one password for pretty much everything they online – and whilst these may be secure (and yes, some sites may enforce MFA – that’s something at least), if just one of these sites/company’s get’s breached – then your password is out there!!!
Microsoft are trying to help prevent this – well, at least make sure you know so you can do something about it quickly…
Whilst anyone running Beta or Dev version of Edge have had this for a while, the latest “stable” update to roll out this week, has introduced / released probably of the most important feature to help users (everyone) understand anywhere where their password may have been breached/compromised – not just on their Office 365 or laptop credentials but across any (and i mean) any web site or SaaS service they use in Edge.
Introducing Password Monitor in Edge
Microsoft have released a new feature called Password Monitor (which is included in Edge build 88 and later), which notifies users if any of their saved passwords have been found in a third-party breach.
This is done by using password hash comparison (so Microsoft doesn’t actually learn or store passwords anywhere), so users can be assured that neither Microsoft nor any other party can learn the user’s passwords while they are being monitored for breach.
When you turn on Password Monitor, Edge starts periodically (you can force it too) checking the passwords you’ve saved in the browser against a huuuuuuge database of known leaked passwords that are stored in the cloud. If any of your passwords match those in the database, they’ll appear on the Password Monitor page in Microsoft Edge Settings. and you also get a pop-up notification if new ones are found. What this is basically telling you is that “any passwords listed there are no longer safe to use” and you should change them immediately – pretty damn useful advice for anyone!
Why this so important
Each year, hundreds of millions of usernames and passwords are exposed online when websites or apps become the target of data leaks and as i mentioned at the start, whilst the public are regularly cautioned against reusing the same username and password combination for more than one online account, it’s a common practice, which leaves them vulnerable on multiple sites when even one passwords gets leaked. Even if your password is complex – it only takes one site to be leaked and your password and username is out there – its like leaving the front door of your house wide-open.
Leaked usernames and passwords often end up for sale on the online black market, commonly referred to as the Dark Web. Hackers use automated scripts to try different stolen username and password combinations to hijack people’s accounts. If one of your accounts is taken over, you can be the victim of fraudulent transactions, identity theft, illegal fund transfers, or other illegal activities and bear in mind many of these sites allow you to save or store payment information, address information, family information on them – perfect for an identity theft!
Password Monitor helps protect your online accounts in Microsoft Edge by informing you when any of your passwords have been compromised, so you can update them. Changing passwords immediately is the best way to prevent your account from being hijacked.
Enabling Password Monitor
This new feature is not enabled by default. In order to active this, you need to carry out these simple steps
- Sign in to Microsoft Edge using your Microsoft account or your work or school account.
- Navigate to Settings and more > Settings > Profiles > Passwords.
- Turn on Show alerts when passwords are found in an online leak.
- Any unsafe passwords will then be displayed on the Password Monitor page.
If you are signed in and syncing your passwords, Password Monitor is automatically enabled in your browsers – auto enablement
When you first enable Password Monitor for the first time, all your passwords will be checked to see if any of them have been compromised. If any of your passwords match those in the list of known leaked passwords, a notification appears:
This notification appears only once each time a new password is found to be unsafe. Microsoft give you two options at this point: – view the details or dismiss the notification – its ok you can come back to them later.
Responding to notifications
If Edge informs you that a user / password combination has been breached / therefore is no longer safe, can go here to learn more :
Settings and more > Settings > Profiles > Passwords > Password Monitor.
Here you will see a list of all the unsafe passwords Microsoft has found, and then for each account listed on the page you can be redirected to that site to allow you to update and change your password. If an entry in the list of compromised passwords is no longer relevant (you may have deleted your account for example), you can click ignore – remember though, if just one site is breached and you use that account elsewhere – change it!
Microsoft have provided a nice Q&A and support page for this here: Password Monitor support page.
Read More about how Password Monitor works
Password Monitor will be made available to Edge users on a rolling basis so it will not be immediately visible to everyone.
You can read more about how this works and why is such a vital step forward for privacy, security and control of your online life here: Password Monitor: Safeguarding passwords in Microsoft Edge – Microsoft Research