The Actual Time It Takes Hackers To Crack a Password + Celeb Phone Hacking

How long does it take to break a password?Do you ever wonder how secure your passwords are?

In light of the recent celebrity phone hacking scandal which resulted in revealing pictures of 100 celebs being posted and shared online and via social media, you’re probably wondering how secure your own passwords are.

The hacker, in this case, “took advantage of a security flaw in Apple’s online backup service, iCloud. Many online services lock someone out after several unsuccessful attempts to log in, but not Apple’s Find My iPhone app and iCloud. That has been changed by Apple in the aftermath of the nude celebrity photo scandal. But with unlimited guesses, a computer program can generate and test thousands of potential passwords until an account is entered. It is called a brute force attack. The tendency of many people to choose weak passwords and to use the same password for each service helped. Once a celebrity’s Find My iPhone app password is discovered, the same password often can access iCloud. People might never know their accounts have been compromised.” (quote from CNN.com)

With that in mind, if your passwords resemble something along the lines of “123456” or “password” or you use the same password for all sites, you’re putting yourself unnecessarily at risk.

Smart hackers are adept at breaking codes in little time, and when you use a simple or common password, you’re opening yourself up to be the victim of online crime.

Here is the actual time it take a hacker to break a password:

  • Lowercase, 6 characters = 5 minutes
  • Lowercase, 9 characters = 2 months
  • Uppercase & Lowercase, 6 characters = 5.5 hours
  • Uppercase & Lowercase, 9 characters = 88 years
  • 6 characters with numbers & symbols = 8.5 days
  • 9 characters with numbers & symbols = 19,985 years

As you can see, adding a length and complexity to your passwords pays off BIG TIME.

Here’s a little tip, instead of using simple words for your passwords, use phrases. For example: “Time flies when you’re having fun!” becomes “TFlyzwhenurhavinFUN!”

A password like that won’t be cracked for millennia! 

And, be sure to use a different password or password variation for every site with a secure log-in.

For extra protection, look into a Virtual Private Network to protect your data and privacy on all your devices, anywhere in the world! Read more HERE.

For the full scoop on the celebrity phone hacking scandal, watch the video below.

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This post was inspired by an element of this infographic.

Back To School Online Safety Tips + Video

In between back-to-school shopping, end of summer activities, and gearing up for yet another school year, it’s important to talk to your kids (no matter what age!) about being safe online.

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Over the summer, warm weather, vacations, camp, and playdates keep kids busy (and offline), but the school year means that the Internet will yet again play a major role in their lives as they do homework, study, and do research for school projects. And, the more time they spend online, the more vulnerable they are to being preyed upon by cybercriminals.

To ensure that your kids are well-prepared for a safe and productive school year, use these guidelines below to discuss smart online practices. Then, watch the “Online Safety Tip” video with them — it covers some important topics, too!

1. Don’t Talk To Strangers Online.

This may seem like a given, but many kids view the Internet as a safe, protected place. And, because of that, they can often over-share personal data like their name, age, address or passwords. Teach your kids the importance of staying vigilant even when online, and you’ll protect not only them, but your whole family, from malicious threats.

2. Don’t Post Anything You Wouldn’t Want Your Parents & Teachers To See.

A great rule of thumb is to teach your kids not to post or share anything online that they wouldn’t feel comfortable with you or their teachers seeing. Even if they think they are sharing something in a private, closed forum, you never know who might “share” it, and who may end up seeing it in the end!

3. Use Long & Strong Passwords.

Inform your kids about the importance of using long, strong passwords for all their accounts. A hacker can crack a 6 letter, all lower case password in mere minutes. Instead, encourage them to use passwords that are 8+ characters long and include a combination of upper and lower case, numbers and symbols.

4. Monitor Online Conversations.

It’s essential to keep tabs on your kids’ online conversations via IM, email and social media. For this, you can use parental control software and also talk to your kids about appropriate vs. inappropriate online discussions. A sit-down family chat around the dinner table will do wonders!

5. Make Sure All Devices Have Security Measures In Place.

Kids access the internet in a variety of ways and at a variety of locations. That’s why it’s vital to consider putting safety precautions in place that will protect them in as many instances as possible. Install antivirus software with a strong firewall, and consider using a VPN to further protect your data and identity from cybercriminals.

Online Safety Tips: Send Kids Back-To-School With Cyber-Security

For more info about using a VPN to protect you and your children, check out GhostPath’s services HERE.

10 People Who Should Be Using A VPN

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 10.21.07 AMFirst off, let’s start with the basics: what is a VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network is a way of adding security and privacy to both public (like coffee house WiFi) and private networks (like your home or office WiFi). It enables you to freely use and browse the Internet without the fear of putting yourself at risk of cybercrimes, hackers, or geographic restrictions.

Needless to say, a VPN service is highly useful and can benefit a number of different people with various needs.

Here is a list of 10 types of people who should be using a VPN:

1. Any who uses public WiFi at hotels, airports, coffee shops, restaurants, etc.

2. People who enjoy streaming content using Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, etc.

3. Employees and students who want to break out of restricted networks at work or school.

4. Anyone who likes to download/upload P2P files anonymously.

5. Vacationers who want to watch home-specific entertainment while traveling, like sporting events, local TV, etc.

6. People who want to secure their online phone calls to prevent eavesdropping.

7. Business travelers who need to bypass countries’ web censorship and content surveillance restrictions.

8. Anyone who does not want their searches logged & recorded by search engines like Google, Bing & Yahoo.

9. People who work with sensitive issues and wish to avoid reprisals & tracebacks because of research like journalists, market researchers, detectives, and lawyers.

10. All who believe that privacy is a basic right!

Do you fall into one or more of these categories?

Then you will enjoy & greatly benefit from using a VPN service.

For more information about how a Virtual Private Network can improve your online experience, click HERE.

 

Photo & 10 categories originally presented by Net For Beginners.

 

 

4 Less-Common Mistakes You’re Making Online That Are Putting You At Risk

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 10.29.47 AMWe all know that we shouldn’t use the same password for all our accounts or share our login information with others, but so much of our lives nowadays are spent online that it’s easy to develop some other bad habits that may be putting you at risk.

Everything we do, say or post online has the potential of being seen by hundreds if not thousands of people, and while the majority of those eyes are likely harmless, if your personal info gets in front of the wrong person, it could cost you your privacy, money and countless headaches.

Below are 4 less-common mistakes that you may be making online that are putting you at risk.

1. Saving your personal information

Many sites, such as online stores, credit cards and even banking sites, give you the option of saving your personal information for quicker login, transactions or purchases. But, despite the added convenience, anytime you save your personal data online you’re putting yourself at risk. Instead of saving your login information and maybe even your credit card number, opt to enter it yourself each time. Sure, it takes a few extra minutes, but it could save you thousands in fraudulent charges!

2. Using public Wi-Fi

Sure, it’s convenient and seems harmless enough, but any time you use public Wi-Fi you’re opening yourself up to potential hacking. Instead of compromising your personal data, avoid banking, accessing your credit cards or shopping online while connected to a public network.

3. Using your debit card for online purchases

When you use your debit card, you’re giving hackers access to your personal bank account. Instead of opening yourself up to the headache of trying to recoup your money after an online breach, protect yourself my designating one credit card with a low-limit for all your online purchases. That way, if it becomes compromised, you know exactly where to look and can easily remedy the issue.

4. Clicking links in emails

You should never, ever click a link or open an attachment in an email from an unknown or suspicious sender. Malicious links and downloads find their way into our inboxes all the time, but if you’re alert, you won’t become a victim of whatever virus is being spread. However, sometimes these links can even come from familiar email addresses, but that doesn’t mean they should be trusted. If you suspect a link might put you at risk, don’t open it — even if it came from a friend. Instead, respond to the email and ask if they truly meant to send it.

To further protect your data, personal info and privacy, consider using a VPN service. For more information about how a VPN can protect you online, visit www.GhostPath.com.

 

How Safety Savvy Are You Online? Take The Quiz To Find Out!

Few of us go a day (or more likely a few hours!) without going online, whether it be to check our email, do research for work, look-up a funny YouTube clip, peruse our social media accounts, or simply pass the time.

But, with so much time spent in cyberspace, we’re also putting ourselves at risk for hacking, identity theft and scams.

If you’re wondering how online safety savvy you are and if you’re putting yourself at risk, take this fun, 6-question quiz to find out.

Want to boost your online safety?

Sign-up for GhostPath’s VPN service & enjoy a 7-day money back guarantee!

How To Access Blocked Websites

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 11.03.04 AMLast week, we investigated blocked content and websites throughout the world, and the list was staggering!

[Missed that blog post? Read “What Content is Blocked Throughout The World” here.]

If you travel abroad for work, have to deal with strict office restrictions, or are frustrated by “blackout zones” on sites like MLB.TV, we’ve compiled a list of easy ways to bypass these setbacks so that you can access any website you choose.

  1. Use a proxy browser extension – The easiest (though somewhat slow and unreliable) way to gain access to blocked websites is via a proxy browser extension like Hola or Stealthy. This will enable you to visit the website using a proxy server based in another geographic location, thus freeing up the blocked content.
  2. Get a VPN – A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is an effective, faster, more reliable way to bypass country restrictions. A VPN will mask your IP address and geographic location so that you can visit any website you choose from anywhere in the world. Read more here.
  3. Try a translation service – Check out a translation service, like Microsoft Translator or Google Translate. These sites will display a website for you without you having to visit the page directly, thus acting like proxy server. This method is not 100% foolproof, and not nearly as reliable as a VPN, but it’s a potential workaround if need be.

Tired of restrictions? Try GhostPath VPN for just $10/month with our no-risk 7-day money back guarantee!

Blocked Content Throughout the World & How to Get Around It

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If you’ve ever been blocked from a website at work, have found yourself in an unexplainable “blackout zone” thanks to sites like MLB.TV, or have arrived in a foreign country only to discover that common sites like YouTube, Facebook or Twitter are banned, you know first-hand the frustration of restricted content!

Though the U.S.A. is the land of the free, there are many instances when we cannot access the websites we wish to visit, thanks to obstacles like workplace restrictions and blackout zones.

But, that’s not nothing compared to the blocked content you’ll encounter when you travel!

In China, you cannot access Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Dropbox, Soundcloud, Blogspot, certain Yahoo sites, or Google (as well as many, many more). Yes, that’s right – you cannot use Google or any of the Google suite like Google+, Google Docs, Google Maps, or Google Drive! Restrictions like this can seriously impact your quality of life and productivity, especially if you’re traveling for work.

When traveling to India, be prepared to live without Mega, Rapidshare, Bitshare and other file storage and sharing sites, regional MP3 download sites, as well as torrent sites like Pirate Bay. But, perhaps the most perplexing is India’s ban of Google Docs and Google Video. In fact, “according to digital media focused website MediaNama, a Delhi high court order passed on 23 June 2014 instructs internet service providers (ISPs) to block as many as 472 websites” (source: The Times of India).

In Turkey, their 10m Twitter users are complaining. The website was blocked after the Prime Minister vowed to “wipe out Twitter” after the site brought to light allegations of corruption.

Other countries that have put a ban on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube include Iran, Vietnam, Pakistan, Eritrea and North Korea, among others.

And, you’ll even encounter censoring in the U.K. In fact, the Washington Post stated that the UK’s ISP filtering systems have “some of the strictest curbs on pornography in the Western world.” (source: Wikipedia) The UK’s new system has been the subject of much criticism ever since it was first introduced in 2013, though Prime Minister Cameron claims that users will have the option to turn the filters off if they so choose, but this has yet to be seen. In July 2014, Open Rights Group investigated and discovered that 19% of 100,000 much-trafficked sites were being blocked in the U.K., with “over-blocked” categories including: sex education, sexual health, help with sex & pornography addiction, support services for rape and abuse, child protection services, suicide prevention, libraries, drug advice, and even parliament, government and politicians’ sites! (source: Wikipedia)

Lastly, let’s cover the issue of watching Netflix, Hulu and other entertainment sites while abroad. Unfortunately, a number of countries don’t grant access to these sites, meaning that you can’t enjoy your favorite shows, entertainment or TV programs when you’re away from home.

If all this censorship has you bummed out, don’t fret. We’ll be back next week with guidelines about how to get around blocked content so that you can enjoy your favorite websites from anywhere in the world!

(Don’t want to wait until next week? Check out GhostPath’s VPN services here, and learn how to bypass MLB.TV’s blackout zones here.)

Cybercrime Report: Are You A Target?

The Internet and computers have become an integral part of our everyday lives.

We wake to our smartphone alarm clock, check our emails over breakfast on our tablet, and settle in at our work desks in front of our computers to conduct the morning’s to-dos…and that’s all before 10am.

Yet, despite the convenience of all this modern technology, it also means that cybercrimes like hacking and identify theft are on the rise.

Norton released their report on cybercrime in 2013, and the data is quite compelling.

First off, though, let’s give a little context as to the depth of this report. Norton collected data from over 13,000 online adults ages 18-64 from 24 different countries.

Below are a few key factors that we found particularly interesting from Norton’s report:

  • 64% of cybercrime victims are male.
  • 66% are millennials (as compared to baby boomers).
  • Common theme noticed in victims: Almost 1/2 of victims don’t use basic precautions like passwords or security software.
  • Among smartphone users, 38% have been a victim of mobile cybercrime in the last year.
  • There are 378 victims per year, which is more than 1 million per day, which translates to 12 victims per second.
  • Risky behavior: 39% of social media users don’t log-out after a session, 25% share their passwords with family & friends, and 31% connect with people they don’t know.

Check out the entire report below:


The Norton Report 2013 

Protect yourself & your data.

Sign-up for a VPN service and never worry again! Register now, and get our 7-day money back guarantee.

Are You At Risk For Facebook Hacking?

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 12.06.52 PMDo you know if you’re at risk of having your Facebook account hacked?

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t really give Facebook hackers much thought as you peruse friends’ photos, post updates, and scroll through your Newsfeed. But, the truth is, social media hacking is a lot more common than you might think! And, if you’re not taking some basic precautions, you might be putting yourself at risk, too.

In 2011, 1 in 10 social network users reported that their accounts had been hacked, and in 2012 the frequency increased to 1 in 6. (Source: Norton Cybercrime Report 2011, 2012.)

In order to protect yourself, your accounts, and your personal, private information, here are 7 simple techniques that you can use to ensure that your Facebook account does not fall prey to hackers.

1. Never share your login or password information.

This may seem like a given, but you’d be surprised how many people freely share their logins and passwords with friends and family members. Though your family and friends likely have your best interest at heart, they may unknowingly post, share or communicate information about your account that could put you at greater risk.

2. Create passwords that are LONG and STRONG.

If you use the same easy-t0-remember password for all your accounts, this is a big no-no. It’s recommended that you change your password every few months and create passwords that are both LONG and STRONG. A great way to do this is to use an acronym of your favorite song title or lyrics. For example, if you’re a Billy Joel fan, you could transform some lyrics from his 1976 hit, “New York State of Mind”, into a great password such as ImInaNYSofM1976 — no one’s going to guess that!

3. Don’t click Newsfeed links.

Never click on suspicious looking links to games, apps and other ads that you’re unsure of that may pop-up in your Facebook Newsfeed, and avoid allowing 3rd party applications to access your information when you sign-up for something.

4. Add a second email.

In the “General Settings” section of your Facebook account, had a secondary email in case your account is ever hacked. In the event that your account is compromised, Facebook will send recovery info to both email accounts so you have a better chance of recovering your information quickly and restoring your account security.

5. Only “friend” friends.

Only accept and extend friendship to individual that you actually know. When you accept a stranger’s friend request, you give them access to your personal information, so it’s always best to never post any sensitive, personal or financial details about yourself.

6. Follow Facebook’s advice.

Facebook offers step-by-step instructions that you can follow that outline “How to Prevent Your Facebook Account from being Hacked”. They suggest enabling login notification, checking your active sessions, and enabling secure browsing. Learn how to do all 3 here.

7. Beef up your online security.

Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a fantastic way to beef up your online security in general and will sure-up not only your social media accounts but all your online activity including emailing, browsing and accessing sensitive sites like banking or credit cards.

A VPN is kind of like a secure tunnel that contains all your data and info, and the tunnel is comprised of an encryption ring that hackers cannot decipher, meaning everything that flows through the tunnel, including your social media activity, is safe.

VPN’s are also extremely valuable if you routinely access your social accounts from low-security networks like coffee shops, airports, hotels, restaurants, or any other public WiFi hotspot.

For a risk-free 7-day trial of GhostPath’s premier VPN service, click here.

Summer Internet Safety Guidelines For Kids

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 10.57.27 AMYour kids are home and enjoying summer vacation, and that means they’re likely spending many more hours plugged into digital devices and online.

And, though the internet can offer countless entertaining, social and even educational opportunities, it can also be a menacing place for children of all ages. Without guidelines and supervision, your children could be exposed to cyberbullying, inappropriate or hateful content, and many other dangers.

That’s why preserving open communication and setting up usage guidelines are so very important.

If you’re wondering how to best protect your kids from online dangers this summer, here are 7 tips to help you!

  1. Enjoy offline family time every day. Every day include some activities that do not revolve around the computer, TV, or any other digital device. Plan a day trip to an amusement park, enjoy a picnic, play a game of catch, or work on a craft project together.
  2. Set a good example. Whether at home or on vacation, set a good example for your kids. Don’t constantly check your emails or messages, put the phone away at the dinner table, and “unplug” often. Your kids will mirror your behavior.
  3. Centrally locate the computer. Putting the computer is a central location in your home is a great way to monitor your kids’ online habits. Also, outline if children are allowed to take smartphones and tablets into their bedrooms or if all “screens have to be seen”.
  4. Establish usage guidelines. Define the rules early and be consistent. Set a time limit for phone and internet usage, define what is acceptable behavior and what is not, and teach them privacy rules.
  5. Have open conversations. Discuss with your children the meaning of privacy and what is and isn’t appropriate to share online. Also, talk to them about online threats so that they begin to understand why having guidelines for internet usage are important in the first place.
  6. Offer alternatives. Suggest that your kids take part in activities outside of the house, like summer camp, sports, or arts & crafts. This not only will keep them offline, but it will provide them with mental and social stimulation.
  7. Put it in writing! Click HERE to download the Common Sense Media Agreement create by Time Warner. This contract includes 3 sets of checklists for kids of various ages as well as conversation guides for parents. If you want to establish healthy online boundaries with your children, this media agreement is a great resource.

Protect your family’s online privacy with GhostPath’s VPN service.
To try it out, click here & enjoy our 7-day money back guarantee!