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How to Make a Killer Password That Can’t be Hacked

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How to Make a Killer Password That Can’t be Hacked

Twitter was recently hit with a security problem when the website was hacked, leaving a quarter of a million accounts in limbo. Weeks earlier, Zappos suffered the same issue. These are examples of how even the strongest passwords can be at risk. However, being the Internet users we are, we aren’t just going to pack up our digital lives and forgo the Internet altogether.

We must improve our current password practices and ensure that the day-to-day scammers and hackers don’t find the key to our online lives. Today, I present you with the comprehensive guide to everything about passwords. From how to choose a strong password to what to do afterwards.

Password Boot Camp

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    What better way to start a guide to passwords than by helping you create the ultimate password? To start, have your computer near by along with a writing utensil and a notepad- they’ll come in handy during this process, and are all that you’ll need. No need for dictionaries or a second individual—your password doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, complicated and highly complex. Below are a couple of tips on how to get started:

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      1. Make Personal Passwords Non-Personal – One key tip is to ensure that your password is related in some way to you that will be easy for you to remember, while not including easily identifiable information. What does that all mean? Yes, you can work in your favorite color or television show into your password. However, don’t include your address or birthday in there.

      2. No Random Generators – Password generators are always considered recommended for choosing strong passwords, but I always advise staying away from them for two reasons. First, some generators heavily reuse password suggestions. Secondly, they are much harder to remember and will require to resorting to password recovery frequently.

      3. Break the Molds – I advise not making use of real words or phrases in your password. For example, if you are going to include the word “soccer” in your password, use “$0kr” instead. This also means, don’t make use of dictionaries in consulting your next password—that’s just asking for hackers to come to you like fresh bait.

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      4. The NAC Philosophy – The philisophy I just created while making this article is the NAC philisophy. This means ensuring that your password includes “Numbers A Characters” along with text. One common mistake with passwords is only including letters, but also including characters and numbers strengthens your password. Simply changing “LuvToPlaySoccer” into “!Luv2ply$okr!” turns a weak password into a strong one.

      5. Utilize the Strength Test – Finally, making use of a strength test can ensure that your password is top performing. Several online resources, including How Secure Is My Password, allows you to instantly see how strong (or common) your password truly is.

      Divide and Conquer

      It’s important to have a different password for each service that you use. It seems a bit difficult in the beginning, but when you begin to continually use the separate passwords for the separate services, you will find yourself associating one password with the service that matches it.

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        When you use a separate password for each website, make sure that you don’t simply leave out a letter or include an extra number—that’s not considered a true variation, and truthfully, it helps narrow down the hacker’s choices even more. So how do yourself to remember all of these passwords? Making use of applications for your desktop or mobile device is a huge help.

        I highly recommend Passwords Plus or KeePassX. Both services are cross platform, have high encryption protection, as well as support for saving the passwords and codes of various services that you use. LastPass is another well rounded password manager that I recommend for users to make use of.

        Secrets In the Details

        You have a great password, wonderful. Now what happens when you forget your password? No problem, just go to password recovery and answer a few questions and you’re done, correct? Well this “convenience” is more of a convenience for hackers than yourself. Many times, when asked to create a recovery answer to a question, we always pick the easiest ones to answer to quickly get through the process.

        However, if your hacker already has the password to your email and is looking to extend its reach, they will make use of your easy-to-answer recovery questions to increase their control over your personal life. How do you protect yourself from hackers passing the recovery test?

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          Answer questions truthfully but in a way that isn’t technically the norm. In other words, look to your recovery answers as passwords of their own. For example, if your question is “In which city were you born?” and your answer is Los Angeles, consider going a step further and including the state as well (even when asking for just a city), or spell the city in a different way, like *Lo$$ Angele$* instead of Los Angeles.

          A friend I consulted while creating this article mentioned a final tip: create an email address specifically for recovery. It may seem like a hotbed of all of your passwords, in one place, but if you ensure that you use the recovery only when you need it and emptying out your trash each time you make use of the password, an individual who hacks that email will be presented with an empty inbox—forcing them to target their prey elsewhere.

          Special iOS Consideration

          Finally, what’s the deal with iOS passwords? It seems that your FBI, secret spy, creative password production ends at this point. Most iPhone, and mobile users in general, seem to resort to simple passwords for their phones. This is worse than doing so for your social network, for example, because there is a greater likelihood of someone going into your phone than hackers in your website or services.

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            This could be because our idea of hackers is a bit distorted: from the teenager in a dark room trying to crack password codes, to your nosy friend who’s trying to go into your phone to take a peak at your text messages, both individuals are considered hackers. Chances are you’ll encounter the friend situation much more often. Below are a couple of quick tips on creating the ideal mobile password for iPhone users and how to increase your security even further:

            • Avoid Patterns: With only 10 numbers to your disposal for only four spots, it’s important to not have corresponding numbers used in your code. This means that 1234 is out, 0987, is out, and the like.
            • Match Numbers with Letters: You may not have noticed, but the keypad on your iPhone also has letters associated with the numbers, also known as T9. This makes it easier to associate a mini phrase to numbers. For example, RAYS = 7297 or WANT = 9268.
            • Look into Longer Passwords: iOS also allows you to make use of text passwords as well. Going into Settings > General > Passcode Lock > turning off “Simple Passcode” makes this happen. Make sure you abide by the tips mentioned in this article when going by this route.
            • Limit Access from Lock Screen: In the same settings area, you can also change what you allow access to when locked. You can prevent Siri, Passbook, and Reply with Message to be accessible from the lock screen. You can also erase iPhone data after 10 failed passcode attempts from here as well. However, I recommend against using that unless I’m traveling or in a compromising venue (a concert, for example).

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            Last Updated on November 25, 2021

            How to Make Private Browsing on Safari Truly Private

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            How to Make Private Browsing on Safari Truly Private

            There comes a time when we may be searching online and don’t want the browser to remember our footsteps. The reasons don’t always have to be what we obviously think of as the main reason; for example, sometimes, you may not want Safari to remember your passwords or prompt you to enter your password when surfing the web.

            Whatever the reason, we may think that we are totally in the clear with Private Browsing on Safari and the other browsers on a Mac. However, a quick Terminal command can bring up every website you’ve visited. How do you do this? Also, how do you clear your tracks for good? We will provide both answers and more today.

              What Does Private Browsing Do?

              When activated, Private Browsing on Safari prevents your browsing history from being kept in the history tab of the application. Along with this, it doesn’t autofill information that you have saved in the browser. In this mode, you essentially become incognito and any references of previous use is essentially hidden when you are in private mode.

              For example: if you are on Facebook or filling out a form and some information or your login is already filled in in the spaces provided, this is called autofill. It’s activated by simply clicking Safari next to the Apple symbol in the menubar and selecting Private Browsing, then clicking “OK” to the prompt.

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              The reasons behind private mode differ for each individual. While we won’t go into all of those reasons, one thing that is  important to remember is that private browsing doesn’t forget the websites you visit. As we will see later on, Macs keep a second copy of the websites you visit in either mode. If you are in frantic mode looking for a solution to this, look no further.

              The Terminal Archive

              While Safari does a good job of keeping your search history out of prying eyes in the history tab, there is a less-than-obvious way to view a full list of visited websites on Mac. This is done in Terminal; the command-line emulator that allows you to make changes to your Mac.

              Terminal is located in the Utilities folder on your Mac. Once activated, simply add the command:

              dscacheutil -cachedump -entries Host

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              Once you hit “enter”, a list of the visited sites appear. Showing only the domains, the sites appear in a format of:

              Key: h_name :(website domain)ipv4 :1

              However, there’s no need to fear—there is a way you can clear this information from Terminal with a command that’s just as simple.

              Clearing Your Tracks

              Just as simply as you were able to enter the command to view the websites, you can clear the cache that Terminal showed you with the comamnd:

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              dscacheutil -flushcache

              As the command denotes, this literally “flushes” the domains from Terminal. This does not prevent the record from continuing to be recorded for future sites, however, so if that’s an issue for you, repeat this process regularly.

              Other Browsers and Private Browsing

              Other browsers have this form of privacy mode for their service. They promise many of the same things as Safari, but they do not have the same Terminal issue due to how this command only presents websites visited on Safari (the browser Macs come shipped with).

              If you use Firefox, you’ll notice that its private mode is also known as Private Browsing. Chrome calls private mode Incognito, while Internet Explorer refers to it as InPrivate Browsing. Opera is the newest to the scene, denoting it as Private Tab. Safari is the oldest well-known browser with this feature.

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              As you can see, despite Private Browsing not being 100% private, Terminal allows for your browser to be. In what ways has Terminal helped your life or allowed you to become more productive? Let us know in the comments below.

              Featured photo credit: Benjamin Dada via unsplash.com

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