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Stay Secure in iCloud In A Way Most People Don’t Know

Stay Secure in iCloud In A Way Most People Don’t Know

There appears to have been a large number of

mobile phones in the news recently, thanks primarily to the rising trend for cheap handsets and the highly anticipated launch of the iPhone 6. The technology that underpins mobile media has also hit the headlines in the last month, however, this was all for more sinister reasons. More specifically, August 31st saw a number of supposedly nude celebrity photographs published to sites including 4chan, Imgur and Reddit. Referred to as ‘The Frappening’, this series of images quickly became one of the fastest growing threads in Reddit history before being deleted. The pictures were in fact fabricated, and had been created using readily available hacking technology that reportedly has the capacity to infiltrate iCloud’s popular Photo Stream feature. ICloud_in_Safari_4_on_Tiger

    The Importance of Safeguarding yourself in the iCloud

    This serious security breach underlines the vulnerability of iCloud and this type of technology. While it is extremely useful and enables individuals to store images, contact details and MP3 files in a single online space, it’s also susceptible to sophisticated cyber hackers. For anyone with an iPhone and access to iCloud, there is a pressing need to operate securely and in a way that does not compromise their most sensitive data. Consider the following steps towards achieving this: –

    1. Understand the Importance of Physical Security

    As a general rule, it can be easy to become preoccupied with creating strong passwords for devices and individual iCloud accounts. While this is important, however, it is also crucial that you safeguard the physical security of your hardware and ensure that each individual device is tracked at all times. If your iPhone or tablet is set to remember your iCloud password, for example, anyone who comes into contact with the device can easily access any data or image that have stored in iCloud. So even if you have a strong, uniform password for every account, you will need to deny others access to your devices where possible and keep track of their location at all times.

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    2. Change your Approach to Creating Passwords

    Historically, online service providers have advised users to create strong and unique passwords with a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. This is not enough to safeguard your iCloud against the threat of cyber thieves however, simply because hacking software is designed to successfully bypass single words and alpha-numeric terms. Instead, you should consider using phrases to protect the integrity of your account, which are easy for you to remember as an individual but extremely difficult for existing software to translate. This will add an additional layer of security to your iCloud data, while also making it easier for you to remember your password and access images, files and sensitive information.

    3. Use Only Secure Wireless Networks to Transfer Data

    As a basic security measure, Apple encrypts all files that are sent to iCloud and stores them in this format. This type of rudimentary measure can be successfully negated by sophisticated hackers, so it’s important that you take additional steps when transferring data to iCloud. It is imperative that you use only secure wireless networks to connect with iCloud, for example, such as those that you control through an alpha-numerical password. Public networks such as wireless hotspots or those accessible through coffee shops should be avoided at all times, as these are far more vulnerable to security breaches.

    4. Protect the Files on your Device as well as those in iCloud

    While Apple may encrypt files sent from synchronised devices once they have been stored in iCloud, they do not extend this courtesy to those on the handset itself. So if your device is connected to iCloud but not protected with a passcode, or by the option of requiring the user to approve access each time that the USB is plugged in to a new machine, it is possible for hackers to utilize a number of third-party programs and copy files directly from the handset. With this in mind, be sure to create a simple four-digit passcode that enables you to lock your phone, as this will encrypt all files and make them inaccessible even if they are transferred over. This is a viable option with iOS 7 on the iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and all subsequently released devices.

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    HowToPasscode-4

      5. Encrypt all Sensitive Documents and Images to your Hard Drive

      On a similar note, it is worth encrypting all synced and sensitive data that exists on your hard drive. While the encrypted files in iCloud may be relatively secure, this means little if they are openly accessible through your hard drive, smartphone handset or tablet device. In addition to this, Apple may be required to turn over even sensitive and personal user data if they are compelled to through a court subpoena. Although this represents a minimal risk, it is crucial that you save files such as health care records or financial information in an encrypted format in their original location. This is an additional security measure that safeguards the integrity of the data stored in iCloud.

      6. Be Wary of Siri

      As a conscientious iPhone and iCloud user, you will need to be aware of all potential security gaps when active online. Even when your device is locked with a four-digit passcode, for example, it’s default setting is to allow users access to the intelligent personal assistant referred to as Siri. A key part of the apple support network, it helps users to complete actions by audio instruction without the need to type or enter keywords. This creates the potential for a huge security gap, as anyone can ask Siri questions that will return data, contacts and additional stored information. This is something to be wary of, especially when establishing your phone’s settings after purchase and storing sensitive data.

      7. Set your Phone to Wipe Data if too Many Unsuccessful Access Attempts are Made

      If you access your iPhone settings, there is an option located at the bottom of the ‘Passcode Lock’ page beneath Siri which is titled ‘Erase Data’. Simply enabling this feature, you can automatically set your iPhone to

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      erase all stored data if there are 10 unsuccessful attempts to gain access to the device or associated accounts. While this is a drastic option, it should at least protect your most sensitive iCloud data from the machinations of opportunistic or less sophisticated thieves. enabled-data-wipe-erase-ipad-3

        8. Integrate Two-factor Authentication with your Account

        We have already discussed the vulnerability of passwords, especially those that are generic in their nature or reused across multiple online accounts; this vulnerability can be offset by the integration of two-factor Authentication with your accounts. Apple offers this as an optional feature for iTunes and iCloud users, and it works simply by forcing individuals to enter both a password and a unique device code before they access the account. These codes are usually sent via SMS upon registration, and they prevent unknown or unverified devices from accessing your data. This is a simple step, but one that can provide considerable peace of mind to Apple customers.

        apple_two-factor_authentication-100392165-orig

          9. Regularly change your Security Questions and Answers

          Online users are often urged to regularly refresh their account passwords, in order to partially negate the threat posed by hackers. While this is good advice, there are other aspects of user-controlled iCloud security that require a similar proactive approach. For example, Apple will always prompt users to use security questions and answers to help control their accounts, and it is important that you change these regularly while also using a combination of truthful and inaccurate data. After all, a hacker may only need to access your emails or synced accounts to identify the name of your partner or a beloved pet, so safeguard your iCloud data by refreshing the questions every month or so and using incorrect answers where possible.

          10. Link your iCloud to a Current and Accessible E-mail Account

          Your iCloud relies heavily on the primary email address that you use. Whether you need to register, log in or reset your password you will need a viable address to secure your account. It is therefore crucial that the iCloud is always associated with a current and accessible email account, rather than one that is now inactive. This is a detail that many users overlook, but idle email accounts represent an easy target for cyber thieves. So be proactive and update your primary email address where necessary, whether you have created a completely new account or have received a reissue address as a result of changing Internet service providers or employers.

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          Featured photo credit: Falko MD / Flickr via flickr.com

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          Last Updated on July 29, 2020

          19 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

          19 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

          Whether you use your Mac for work or just for your personal projects, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how to improve your productivity. There are only so many hours in a day, and so much mental stamina you can muster before you run out.

          There are dozens of tricks you can use to improve your own productivity and outlook, but if you’re looking for a more objective, comprehensive fix, the best thing to do is equip your Mac with productivity apps designed to help you do more in less time.

          This Lifehack-exclusive list has some of the best productivity apps to help you feel less tired, improve your energy, and ultimately help you get more done every day:

          1. Todoist

            Available for all iOS devices, Todoist is a note-taking and organization app that can keep you on top of all your projects—both personal and professional.

            Its best features are all free to use, including browser extensions, task creation, and interactive boards you can use to organize all your notes.

            If you want to pay the optional $29 yearly fee, you can get even more advanced features like backups and automatic reminders. Even with the free version, you’ll stay far more organized.

            Download: Todoist

            2. 1Password

              You may not realize it, but you probably spend a ton of time recalling your passwords, especially if and when you forget one to an app you use on a regular basis.

              1Password is an app for Mac that saves and remembers all your passwords for you in one place, so you can access all your favorite sites with a single click.

              You’ll save time and keep all your accounts secure simultaneously. A personal plan is $2.99 per month.

              Download: 1Password

              3. Bear

                Bear is a unique kind of note-taking app designed to make it easier for Mac users to jot down notes on the go. With it, you can create to-do lists, give yourself reminders, and outline concepts for future brainstorming sessions.

                It comes with many different inline styles so you can customize your notes to your personal preferences, and remember the context in which you wrote them. The core version is free, with a $14.99 per year version available as well.

                Download: Bear

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                4. Hazel

                  Hazel by noodlesoft is an automated organization tool designed for Mac that will help you automatically organize your files based on any custom rules you want to create.

                  For example, you can set it to move untouched items from one folder into another folder labeled “action items” if they haven’t been addressed within a week. It can save you hours of organization over the course of a few weeks. A single license is a flat $32.

                  Download: noodlesoft

                  5. Alfred

                    Alfred is an all-in-one app designed to save you time with Mac shortcuts and convenient custom actions. You can use it in a variety of ways.

                    For example, you can access Alfred’s clipboard memory so you don’t copy and paste the same material over and over, or set up custom workflows to automate some of your most repetitive tasks.

                    It’s a paid app, with multiple price points based on the features you desire.

                    Download: Alfred

                    6. TextExpander

                      TextExpander does exactly what the name suggests; it allows you to type a short snippet of text, and expand that text automatically.

                      For example, you can create a custom expansion that allows you to conjure a full paragraph you type repeatedly by simply typing a unique abbreviation. Once you get used to your custom combinations, you’ll spare your fingers from typing thousands of words.

                      An individual account is $3.33 per month.

                      Download: TextExpander

                      7. Backblaze

                        If you’ve ever experienced a crash, or theft of your Mac, you know how much time a system restore can cost you. You’ll spend hours replacing the files you lost, and lose thousands of files that are irreplaceable.

                        Backblaze is an automated, inexpensive way to back up your entire Mac for just $5 a month.

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                        Download: Backblaze

                        8. Keyboard Maestro

                          Keyboard Maestro is an older app that still has the power to make your life easier. With it, you can automate any number of tasks based on a certain trigger (such as a hotkey combination, or an event like connecting to a wireless network). A single license only costs $36.

                          Download: Keyboard Maestro

                          9. Snagit

                            There are many applications for a good screen-capture app, whether you’re trying to illustrate a tech problem you have or just want to make an interesting meme. Snagit makes it easy, with built-in editing for both still images and video. A single license covers two machines, and costs $49.95.

                            Download: TechSmith/Snagit

                            10. Bartender

                              Bartender is the cleverly-named app that helps you clean up and organize all your menu bar icons. You can also access them quickly with keyboard shortcuts.

                              If you’re like most Mac users, those icons get cluttered quickly and stop you from working efficiently. It’s free to try for 4 weeks, after which you’ll need a $15 license.

                              Download: Bartender

                              11. Otter

                              Otter is the Mac app for the note taker who hates typing. It’s an intelligent voice-recognition system and note-taking app that will help you transcribe your conversations, keep notes during meetings, and even take contextual notes to yourself in your own time.

                              Best of all, it’s free to get started!

                              Download: Otter

                              12. Flux

                                Do you often find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, or feeling unable to get to sleep after a day of staring at your computer? That could be because of the unnatural blue light that radiates from your Mac.

                                Flux naturally adapts your display to emit light that matches the time of day, so you can sleep better and feel less tired. It’s also free!

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                                Download: Flux

                                13. PDFpen

                                If you deal with PDFs on a regular basis, you probably find yourself wishing for some kind of tool that can let you mark up those PDFs however you want. Without a dedicated app like PDFpen, this can be difficult.

                                PDFpen lets you edit PDFs in almost any conceivable way, giving you more power and saving you time. A single license is $74.95.

                                Download: Smile Software/PDFpen

                                14. OmniFocus

                                  OmniFocus is all about task management. It has a clean interface that allows you to tag your tasks, schedule events, and even automate certain features.

                                  It’s one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market, so there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of it.

                                  A standard license is $39.99, while the pro version is $79.99.

                                  Download: OmniFocus

                                  15. Franz

                                    It’s tiring to switch between dozens of different chat programs like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and WhatsApp, whenever you want to have a conversation with a different contact.

                                    Franz’s solution is simple; offer access to all these apps in one convenient package. And best of all, it’s completely open source.

                                    Download: Franz

                                    16. MindNode

                                      If you’re the brainstorming type, you need an app like MindNode to help you efficiently organize your thoughts. There are dozens of tools you can use to connect ideas in a mind map, or simply jot down notes for future reference.

                                      The core app is free, with in-app purchases available.

                                      Download: MindNode

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                                      17. Focus

                                        The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be awfully distracting. And if you’re like the majority of us, you’ve interrupted work on a project because of some attention-grabbing site or bad online habit. That’s where Focus comes in.

                                        This app allows you to block the worst offenders with custom time limits and other constraints, so you can focus on the task at hand. A single license is $19.99.

                                        Download: Focus

                                        18. CleanMyMac

                                          Chances are, your Mac isn’t working as fast as it could, thanks to gigabytes of clutter and unnecessary files on your system. CleanMyMac helps you scan your Mac, monitor its health, and ultimately clean it up—so you can handle all your tasks that extra bit faster. A single license is $39.95.

                                          Download: CleanMyMac

                                          19. Grammarly

                                            A spelling error or grammatical mistake can cost you big time. It could be the source of a worse grade on a big paper, or compromise your credibility in the workplace. Thankfully, Grammarly can help you.

                                            This Mac-integrated writing assistant monitors all your writing and makes live corrections, so you’re alerted to your potential mistakes before they become permanent.

                                            A free version exists, but the premium version will cost you between $11 and $30 a month, depending on how you pay.

                                            Download: Grammarly

                                            The Bottom Line

                                            These productivity apps should help you squeeze more productive hours out of every day, but they aren’t the only tools you’ll have to help you find success.

                                            Make the time to learn about and experiment with all the life hacks that can make you more productive. By improving your devices as well as your outlook and focus, you’ll be able to get far more done in a day, and feel better doing it.

                                            More to Boost Productivity

                                            Featured photo credit: Patrick Ward via unsplash.com

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