How To Password Protect Files in Linux

The USP of Linux has always been the strong security and stability it offers. Per user/group permissions and ACLs (access control lists) take care of almost all the security needs of a home users as well as an enterprise customer. If there is a need for even more fine grained control, there are various flavors of Linux available that are specifically designed with industrial grade security in mind and certified by organisations such as the NSA.

If you’re a home user, though, all this doesn’t really matter to you. Sure, it helps to have seperate permissions for different users on the system, if you’re sharing your computer with, say, your sibling, but configuring ACLs for home a user is a little overkill, if you ask me.

If all you need is a way to password protect certain important files from the prying eyes of your siblings, kids or pesky neighbors, Linux doesn’t offer anything *out of the box*. Fear not, though, we have just the right tool for you.

Password Protect Files

mcrypt is a utility designed to encrypt/decrypt a file using standard encryption techniques. If you don’t have mcrypt installed, you can install it with the following command.

apt-get install mcrypt

To password protect a file execute the following command

mcrypt <filename>

The above command will output something like this.

khera@khera:~$ mcrypt test1
Enter the passphrase (maximum of 512 characters)
Please use a combination of upper and lower case letters and numbers.
Enter passphrase: Enter password here
Enter passphrase: Repeat password here

File test1 was encrypted.
khera@home:~$

By default, mcrypt creates a new encrypted file with the extension .nc added to the original filename and leaves the original file intact. If this is not what you want, and you’d rather not have any traces of the original file, use mcrypt with the “-u” option.

mcrypt -u <filename>

This will ask you for a password as usual and the only difference will be that when the command finishes executing, the original file, test1 in the above case, will be deleted.

Decrypting a Password Protected File

So, now you know how to password protect file but what about decrypting it.

Turns out mcrypt does that too. Just use mcrypt with the “-d” option and it will decrypt the file for you after confirming the password with you.

mcrypt -d <encrypted filename>

The output should look something like this

khera@khera:~$ mcrypt -d test1.nc
Enter passphrase: Enter password here
File test1.nc was decrypted.

Like, in the encryption phase, mcrypt doesn’t delete the original file by default and if that is what you want, use mcrypt with the -u switch.

mcrypt -u -d <encrypted filename>

This will decrypt the file and delete the original encrypted file leaving no traces of it on your computer.

How was that for an easy encryption/decryption utility?

Forget Passwords, Scan QR Codes to Login

Passwords play an important role in any internet user’s experience. After all, it is the most universal way to authenticate a user online. Wether you want to check your email, log-in to a social network, banking or any other website, chances are that you will have to set up an account and verify yourself every time you log into the site. In a study conducted by Microsoft it was found out that an average internet user has about 25 accounts online that require passwords. Internet gurus have always advised to use separate passwords for each account but if you adhere to that advice, it can become almost impossible to remember the correct password associated with each of our account.

Uniclau is a web based startup that can revolutionize the way users enter their password and it makes apt use of the device that is always with us – our mobile phone. The use of a cell phone to authenticate a user is certainly not new, and we had earlier reviewed the use of mobile phone to make your google account more secure.

With Uniclau you can do away with the hassle of remembering the username and password for any of your online account. To use the service, visit the Uniclau home page and install the uniclau extension for your browser and also the application for your iPhone or Android phone. Once that is taken care of, open the application from your phone. First time users will be prompted to set a pin and their email address which will have to be verified.

Installing the extension on your browser will display a QR Code next to the login field whenever you visit a website. All you need to do is scan this code from the uniclau application on your phone. For the first time for every website, you will have to enter the username and password associated with that account on your phone. For every subsequent access, scanning the code will automatically log you into the website on your browser.

 

Since scanning the QR code from your phone is all that is needed to log into a website, it can become risky if you ever lose your phone. However, that is also taken care of and a pin needed to start the application ensures that only an authorized person can use the unicalu app on the phone. In fact, added security measures such as defining friends and saving a PUK code can even protect you even when you lose your phone or your associated email id gets compromised.

Overall, uniclau is an impressive service that can remove all the woes of incorrect password attempts due to different password for each of our online account. Having said that, the service can also be slightly annoying at times as it occasionally displays the QR code when there is no login field on the page. However, I am pretty sure that upcoming updates will fix the problem.

So, if you have a working internet connection on your smart phone and a long list of passwords to remember, Uniclau is certainly the way to go.

How do you prefer to manage your passwords ?

How To Create A Bootable OS X Mountain Lion USB Thumb Drive

If you’ve followed our previous instructions on installing OS X Mountain Lion on your Mac, you have a backup of the Mountain Lion installer somewhere on a disk lying around. You can take this disk to any OS X computer running Lion and run the installer over there to upgrade it to Mountain Lion. If, on the other hand, you have an older Mac with a version of OS X that cannot be upgraded directly to Mountain Lion, or you want to do a clean re-install of the OS, this is the guide you should follow to create a bootable Mountain Lion USB Thumb Drive.

Search the drawers for an 8GB Thumb Drive. The Mountain Lion installer is about 5GB so anything more than that should do. Insert the key into your Mac.

Now, find the Mountain Lion installer that you copied away safely earlier. If you don’t have it, download it again from the Mac App Store’s Purchases section.

When the download completes, the installer will launch. Quit it.

Use the Finder to browse over to the Applications folder if you just downloaded the installer or the folder where you copied the previously downloaded installer.

Right click the Installer icon and select the Show Package Contents option.

Browse to the Contents/Shared Support folder.

There will be two files in this folder. We are interested in the DMG file named InstallESD.dmg.

Right-click this file and select the Open With->Disk Utility option.

This will open Disk Utility and you should be able to see your USB key as well as the InstallESD DMG file in the left side column.

Select the USB key and click on the Partition tab.

From the Partition Layout tab, select 1 Partition and then click the Options button below the partition layout graphic.

Make sure that the GUID Partition Table radio button is selected. Click Ok and hit Apply. If Disk Utility warns you about your disk being erased, click Ok and let it proceed.

Now, select and right click the InstallESD DMG file in the left column and choose the Open Disk Image option.

Select the newly mounted Mac OS X Install ESD volume and click on the Restore tab on the right side.

The Source field in the Restore tab should now be set to Mac OS X Install ESD. In the Destination field, drag and drop the partition that we earlier created on the USB Key and then press the Restore button.

This will copy the contents of the Installer image to the USB key.

You can now use this USB key as a bootable installer on any Mac.

How To Prepare Your Mac For Mountain Lion

As you all probably know by now, Mountain Lion was released yesterday. Unless, you’re one of those early adapter types, you’re probably holding out on upgrading your Mac for the weekend. In my opinion, though, the best time to upgrade to a new version of an operating system is when the first update comes out. In Mountain Lion’s case, that would be 10.8.1. The first version is when the really annoying bugs are fixed and the chances of the operating system screwing the user’s computer are really low.

If you still think you’re ready for the first version of Apple’s latest, greatest, this guide should help you prepare your Mac for the onslaught!

Backup

I cannot stress this point enough. Please make a backup of all your important documents before upgrading. While, Apple definitely tests their installation process hundreds, if not thousands, of times, this is a computer and murphy will strike when you lease expect him to. Since, I use Time Machine for backups, I always have a backup of my data with me. I still verified if all was well with the data and proceeded to the next step.

Take a backup of your data and thank me later.

Verify Disk/File System

This is a step that I’ve not seen anyone recommend but it is, in my opinion, the most important step in the whole upgrade process. Mac OS X uses the hfs file system for storing all your files. Normally, a file system is something the user should not be concerned with, but when things go wrong in the file system, the user has the most to lose. A bad sector on the hard disk or an error with the file system structures can lead to data loss and more.

Reboot your Mac and press and hold the Option key when the computer is booting up. This will bring up a menu that’ll let let you select the recovery partition to boot into. Now, select the disk utility option from the window that pops up on the screen.

When Disk Utility launches, select your hard disk volume from the column on the left and click the Repair Disk button on the right. Depending on the size of your hard disk, this process might take a little time. Use this time to find a spare USB drive or an external hard drive with atleast 5 GBs of free space. We’ll need it for the next step.

Download Mountain Lion

This one’s easy!

Reboot your computer back to Lion and start downloading Mountain Lion from the Mac App Store. It costs $19 and Apple really couldn’t have made it easier to download it. The installer is about 4.6GB so this might take a while, if you like in a Bandwidth impoverished countries of the world like I do.

When the download completes, the installer will launch automatically. Quit it (Use Command+Q since the installer doesn’t have an option to quit).

Go to the Applications folder and copy the installer (named Mountain Lion Installer) to the spare disk you found earlier. This is needed because once Mountain Lion is installed the installer is deleted and to use it again you’ll have to download the full 4.6GBs again, which may be a little painful.

Installation

That’s it! You’re all set to install Mountain Lion. The installer itself is pretty simple and doesn’t require too much user intervention. Let the installer do it’s magic.

How To Test The RAM On Your Computer

The RAM is arguably the most important part of your computer. Apart from the processor, of course, but without some kind of memory, even the process is pretty much useless. A computer, without RAM, cannot run any application that you tell it to and might as well be a dead paper weight.

If you’ve noticed unusual freezes and random operating system/application crashes on your computer, the RAM should be your first line of diagnosis. The RAM on a modern computer is composed of millions of cells that store the data for the computer to process and failure of even a single cell can cause weird errors that can be extremely difficult to diagnose.

Memtest is an open source utility that verifies the RAM installed on your computer for any defects. Since, this is an open source tool, there are versions available for practically every operating system and I’m going to use the Mac OS X version of memtest today since that is what I’m most familiar with. You should be able to use the same command line switches with the version of memtest available for your operating system.

Download MemTest For Free

Memtest is available as a free download so just download it to your computer and unzip the file. You should now have a .pkg installer that you can just double click to install memtest. This installer does nothing other than installing the memtest binary to /usr/bin.

To start testing the RAM on your computer, launch Terminal.app and execute memtest.

Sharninders-iMac:~ sharninder$ memtest all 1

The above command will make memtest run through it’s complete test suite once. In general, it is better to test at least twice, or even let it run for a few hours if you want to be completely sure. If you don’t specify any number after the “all”, memtest runs indefinitely and will have to be stopped by pressing the ctrl+c key combination manually.

If Memtest throws up an error or memtest itself freezes, you’ll know for sure that the RAM is bad. If not, well, time to start diagnosing other parts of the computer.

Memtest for PCs

If you’re not running a Mac, you can still use memtest to diagnose the RAM of your PC, though the process is a little different. For PCs, memtest is distributed as images that you can burn onto CDs or USB flash drives.

Download one of the many pre-built images and burn it to a CD or to a USB flash drive, depending on the image. Now, shutdown your computer and reboot it using the CD/USB Key that you just burned. That should start Memtest straight away. Let the diagnostics run for a while or till you’re sure that the RAM has been tested thoroughly.

Have you ever had the RAM in your computer go bad ? How did you diagnose it ?

 

Manage Your Android Phone From PC

Android phones are gaining popularity thanks to the huge number of applications available that let you do almost anything from playing a casual game to managing your bank account with a phone. We have already covered some of the best free and paid applications for android phones. Now lets take a look at 2 more free applications that let you take complete control over your android phone, from a computer.

With memory capacity of our phones increasing exponentially, managing all your files, folders, music, applications on a few inches screen is no more convenient. This is where Wondershare MobileGo for Android comes into play. Install the free software on your windows computer and you are set to explore your device from a much broader prospective, quite literally.

Connection to your phone can be done through a USB cable or Wi-Fi although you need to install the android counterpart to connect via the latter option. Once connected, the interface is extremely neat and user friendly. The first thing you will probably notice is the screenshot of your phone. The two buttons underneath it can be used to save the screenshot on your PC or to refresh the screen.

The large green and blue buttons on the right of your phone screenshot lets you perform 1 click backup and restore of your phone’s content. You can back up your contacts, sms messages, calendar entries, call logs, playlists and the apps on your phone.

Separate icons for Music, Videos, Photos, Contacts, SMS and Apps are provided so that you can manage them individually. Some of the features include the ability to set your ringtone, add or edit contacts, send SMS’s and installing or uninstalling apps. Adding or removing files to or from your phone and memory card can also be done effortlessly.

Overall, Wondershare MobileGo is highly recommended for anyone looking for an easy yet effective android management tool. However, it has one limitation – your phone must be with you in order to connect with your PC.

To be able to control your android phone remotely, try Phonedeck. Although it does not provide as much control over your phone as in case of Wondershare MobileGo, yet it is good for those who often forget to carry their phones with them. To use Phonedeck you need to create an account, download the mobile application and sync your phone with the phonedeck cloud dashboard.

Once that is done, log into the phonedeck homepage from any browser, irrespective of where your phone is, to manage it. The activities tab will show you your recent activities and you can filter it according to missed calls, incoming and outgoing calls or only sms. The contacts tab displays all your contacts in alphabetical order and you can view the contacts and merge or delete them. The Insights tab is an interesting addition as it shows you statistics such as number of calls or sms’s made in a week, month or year, the average call duration and top contacts etc.

The top bar contains a search bar and icons for sending SMS’s or making phone calls. The last icon (present on the right) shows the battery status of your phone and also contains a ‘Locate this phone’ function which triggers a soft ding sound on your phone even if it’s in the silent mode.

All in all, both MobileGo and Phonedeck are excellent android management tools. While the former demands that you have the phone with you to manage it, the latter requires a working internet connection on your phone. Because of the differences, both the tools will satisfy consumers of different needs and requirement.

Do you use any computer application to manage your phone? Do let us know which management tool would you prefer for your phone?

Make The Most Of Your Dropbox Account

Cloud storage is all the rage these and when it comes to cloud storage, Dropbox is one service that needs no introduction. Being one of the most popular online backup services, a lot of people use it to store their pictures, videos, documents and almost all types of files. Useful as it is, the dropbox service can be extended to much more than just a regular file storage service with the help of these free web based services.

Perform automated actions on saving files

Wappwolf is an automator for dropbox which means that you can have certain actions performed automatically when you drop files to specific folders in your dropbox account. A lot of actions are available such as automatically upload pictures to your facebook or google+ account, convert files to pdf or ebook, zip it, email it and many more.

Backup Your Website or Blog

Ask any webmasters and you will know how important it is to keep a backup of one’s website. My BackupBox makes this process automated by scheduled backups to your dropbox account. All you need to do is connect your account from where you want to transfer the files. Available options include FTP, SFTP, MySQL, Dropbox, Box, Skydrive and Google Drive. Once you set your source and destination, you can choose for a one time transfer or scheduled transfers on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Receive Files Publicly

Emails are not the most convenient means when it comes to receiving files, especially large ones. DropItToMe allows users to receive files from anyone directly to your dropbox account. Register with the site and set your upload password get your file upload url for your DROPitTOyourname page. On visiting this link users will have to enter the upload password before uploading a file. This prevents any unwanted upload from unknown users.  File size of upto 75 MB is supported by the service. Check the screenshot which shows the page for uploading files into my dropbox account.

Save files directly from a url

If there is an online file that you want to store into your dropbox account then downloading it to your computer and then transferring it to dropbox is unnecessary hassle. You can easily overcome it by using SideCloudLoad as it lets you save a file directly from its url into your dropbox. All you need to do is enter the file url and your dropbox credentials.

Save Emails and Attachments

If saving directly from url or receiving files publicly is not enough for you, this service can save your email attachments into your dropbox folder. Visit SendToDropbox and connect your dropbox account to get your @sendtodropbox.com email address. You can share this email id with anyone and all emails and attachments received at this address will be saved into an ‘Attachments’ folder in your dropbox account. Also, you can add the sendtodropbox email address to the forward list in your existing email id so that all emails and attachments sent there are also saved into your dropbox account.

Do share with us if you use any cloud based services for your storage needs and if you found the above services useful. If you haven’t started using Dropbox, yet, get your free account here. Don’t wait !

Best WordPress Plugins to Boost your Blog !

WordPress, without a doubt, is one of the most popular and widely used content management system in existence. From its start in 2003 till today, wordpress has been used my millions of sites. Various factors including easy setup, seo friendly nature, ease of use, security, huge number of themes and plugins contribute to its success. One of the most applauded features of wordpress is certainly the support for plugins and the immense number of plugins available. Take a look at some of the free wordpress plugins that can help you make the most out of your blog.

Mobile Friendly Version

Gone are the days when blogs were only targeted for desktop and laptop users. If your blog does not support a mobile version, chances are that you are losing on a lot of quality traffic. The Wptouch plugin is an excellent plugin that automatically converts your blog into a mobile version when viewed on a mobile device.

Site Backup

Keeping the backup of your entire site can be very handy while recovering data loss. The BackUpWordpress plugin makes this task automated by taking a backup of all your files and database every day. You can even have a copy of the backup mailed to you.

SEO

Anyone who wants to make his blog successful needs to have an effective Search Engine Optimization technique. Thankfully, there are a lot of plugins available that make the job easy for novice bloggers to experts. You can choose any one of the plugins from SEO Ultimate, All in one SEO or WordPress SEO by Yoast to cater to all your optimization needs.

Speed Up Your Blog

Cacheing and compressing techniques are often used by bloggers to render their pages faster on the internet. The WP Super Cache plugin generates static html pages that are faster to load and the WordPress Gzip Compression plugin enables gzip compression. You can even install the WP Minify plugin to further boost loading times.

Social Sharing

Social media is a great tool to popularize your blog and a lot of plugins are available in this category to suit your needs. The recommended ones are Digg DiggSharebarAdd This and Sexy Bookmarks and you can install any one that pleases your eyes.

Security

Securing your wordpress site is an absolutely essential step if you take blogging seriously. Two highly effictive plugins that help you secure your blog are Bullerproof Security and Wordfence Security. It is recommended to install only of the security plugin to avoid conflicts between the plugins.

Commenting System

If you use the default commenting system, you can easily become a victim of innumerous spams. Askimet is one of the most popular spam prevention system available. As an alternative, you can install Disqus or IntenseDebate to get an advanced and feature rich commenting system for your wordpress blog.

Contact Form

Contact forms not only makes your blog look more professional, but also avoids the need to share your email id publicly online. Contact Form 7 is one the simplest yet most effective contact form plugin available for wordpress.

These are only some of the vast number of plugins available. Do share with us what other plugins you think are absolutely essential for any wordpress blog.

Get All Round Security For Your Android Phone with Avast

Security is one area where no compromises should be made, be it for a personal computer or a mobile phone. Android developers too, have understood this very well which is why there are a lot of security applications available in the android market (now, Google Play). Among all the alternatives available, I found Avast Mobile Security to be an excellent (and free) security suite that outperforms many of its paid counterparts.

With features such as virus scanner, privacy advisor, application management, web shield, sms and call filter, firewall and anti theft, one can be completely at peace after installing it on one’s android device. Let us discuss the features in detail.

Virus Scanner

The most basic feature of any security application, this can be used to scan the installed apps and the memory card. Users can even schedule automatic scans on their desired day and time.

Privacy Advisor

Android users often complain that installing applications can result in compromising your private information on the phone. Avast privacy advisor shows you all the potential privacy issues along with the list of applications causing it. Examples include applications that can track your location or access your messages, contacts etc.

Application Management

This is a very simple yet handy tool that shows you all your installed applications and the currently running applications. The list can be sorted according to name, size, memory or CPU usage.

Web Shield

Accessing the web from your device exposes you to a host of threats such as phishing scams. Avast web shield automatically integrates with your default web browser and warns you whenever it detects a potential threat.

SMS and Call Filter

If you’re tired of all the marketing calls and SMS’s on your phone, the SMS and Call filter will prove to be a blessing. Create customized groups and then opt to block incoming or outgoing calls and sms’s at your desired days and time. Simple, yet effective.

Firewall

The Avast Firewall works only on rooted android devices and can be used to block all or selected applications from accessing your WIFI , 3G or data network.

Anti Theft

If the thought of losing your android phone gives you nightmares, then the anti theft feature alone will make you fall in love with the avast security app. To begin with, the anti-theft application can be both renamed and hidden so that any unwanted user does not know of its presence on the phone.

The application also gives you remote control over your phone via SMS commands. Every SMS command begins with your set password and this message is never displayed on your phone. With SMS commands, you can lock your phone, turn on a siren, locate the phone, make calls and SMS’s and much more. In case of a SIM change, the new phone number, along with the phone’s location, is sent to the pre defined numbers on your phone.

Some advanced options, such as to prevent USB access to the phone, forcing the data connection to remain active, and the ability to install or uninstall apps are also present but they require the phone to be rooted.

Conclusion

Avast! Mobile Security, without a doubt, performs exceptionally well and is certainly a must have application for any android phone. Moreover, it also defies the general convention of paid apps always being better than free ones.

Download Avast Mobile Security for free from Google Play.

7 Great Photo Sites for Your Blog

This is a guest post written by Melanie Slaugh.

Melanie Slaugh is enthusiastic about the growing prospects and opportunities of various industries and writing articles on various consumer goods and services as a freelance writer. She writes extensively for internet service providers and also topics related to internet service providers in her area for presenting to consumers, the information they need to choose the right Internet package for them. She can be reached at slaugh.slaugh907 @ gmail.com

Finding photo content for your blog that is legal to use can sometimes feel like pulling teeth. Not that painful, of course, but equally frustrating. The various licenses, individual author requirements and the (usually) poor quality of pictures available means that you’re likely better off paying for stock photos than use any random image off the Internet.

Don’t get lost in a mishmash of legal obligations. Here are seven websites that offer photos for you to use, most of them free of charge, and all of them perfectly legal. Just pay attention to the citation rules of each site and you’ll get along fine.

Morgue File

Stock Photos

Weird name aside, this site is fun to use and offers a great selection of amateur photography. What exactly is a morgue file, though? Well, this site defines it as, “a morgue file is a place to keep post production materials for use of reference, an inactive job file”. The photos are usually of good quality and interesting dynamics. Check out the front page for featured photos that really stand out.

Public Domain Photos

Public Domain Photos has over 5,000 free photos and 8,000 free clipart usable by businesses and individuals alike. Anything you are looking for, public domain wise, you can find on this site. They may not be the most exciting of photos, but sometimes you just need something simple for you blog post.

ImageBase

This website is easy to navigate and has photos separated into different categories on the first page. It also has a search tab if you are looking for something specific, as well as high resolution pictures (1600 x 1200 or 3072 x 2048). A great site for photos that need to be large or very, very clear.

Free Digital Photos

This website groups its photos into two different categories – you can download good quality stock photos for free, but for their highest quality photos there is a charge. I love the way they separate the photos. It makes it so easy to search, though be aware these are stock photos, and most look like it.

EveryStockPhoto

The photos here are license-specific, so you have to be sure to check the licensing terms before downloading them. You also are able to rate, tag, collect, and comment on their photos. Like number four, these are stock photos. That means a lot of white backgrounds and grinning people. This site may not fit every blog, but once in a while stock photos are just what you need.

Stockvault

Stock Photos

StockVault has 27,000 free images to choose from and download. They define themselves as, “Stockvault’s sole purpose is to collect and archive medium and high resolution photographs that designers and students can share and use for their personal and non-commercial design work”. Much more than just stock here, these photos are create and eclectic.

OpenPhoto

Stock Photos

OpenPhoto is another website that has all of their categories separated by easy to use buttons on the front page of their website. With a Craigslist feeling, this site makes sense in a lot of ways, notably the navigation. Don’t expect a lot of flair here, but do expect to find just what you are looking for.

Finding photos for your blog doesn’t have to be a struggle. Check out a couple of these websites and see which one fits your needs best. Don’t forget, the picture doesn’t have to be bland or boring. Take a chance and have fun with your photos.