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I am connected to my chat accounts via Empathy, a messaging program, and it has my password stored in it. I am really curious to know how it is storing the passwords, and if there is any they can retrieved back in plain text?

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When an application store your password it do so on your personal computer. This means that unless an attacker has physical access to your computer or unless your computer is compromised by a virus, your password is safe residing on your local machine.

Browser are also programs that can store your password. Let's take chrome for example. If you go in the setting you can see all the sites/passwords that you have. You can even see them in plain text if you select that option. So, yes they can be retrieve in plain text, but only if you are in much bigger trouble (attacker directly on your computer or a virus).

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As far as I know, Empathy is using the system's password storage capabilities (GNOME Keyring, KWallet etc.) to store the passwords for your accounts, so you may have to look into specifically how these tools operate. Which of them is actually used depends on what operating system and desktop environment you're running on.

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