A complete guide for SSL, TLS and certificates

Latest — Jun 21, 2024

Every year, blockchain technology unveils new possibilities in the realm of digital transactions and decentralized applications. One of the latest additions to this ecosystem is the smart account—advanced accounts capable of automatically performing predefined functions and operations.

Imagine a digital wallet that automatically allocates funds among various investment portfolios based on predetermined rules or market conditions. Or consider a smart contract managing the supply of goods in real-time, based on demand and supply.

While smart accounts offer unprecedented flexibility and automation in managing cryptocurrencies, they also introduce unique security challenges that must be addressed to protect valuable digital assets and ensure the stability of decentralized systems.

What is a smart account?

Before delving into security issues, let’s clarify what smart accounts are and their role in the blockchain ecosystem. In traditional blockchains like Bitcoin, accounts are addresses linked to specific balances and transactions. However, smart accounts, as seen on platforms like Ethereum, have far broader functionality.

Smart accounts are unique accounts tied to executable code known as smart contracts. These contracts define the conditions under which the smart account can perform certain actions, such as transferring funds, performing computations, or interacting with other contracts. For instance, a smart account could be programmed to automatically send monthly rent payments from your cryptocurrency funds.

Unlike regular accounts that merely hold funds, smart accounts are autonomous agents capable of making decisions and performing complex operations based on embedded logic. It’s akin to a bank account that can independently transfer funds at specific intervals and under certain criteria.

Security issues of smart accounts

The unique security challenges of smart accounts are a significant concern, especially as protecting digital assets in the dynamic blockchain environment becomes critically important with the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies. Key security issues include code vulnerabilities, cyberattacks, and problems with access management and permissions. Any bugs or vulnerabilities in the code can have catastrophic consequences, such as the Genesis DAO project’s loss of $50 million in 2016 due to a smart contract vulnerability.

Several high-profile blockchain security breaches involving smart contracts have raised serious concerns, particularly among those actively engaged with blockchain technology. For instance, the infamous DAO hack led to the Ethereum network's hard fork, resulting in a new version of the blockchain—Ethereum Classic.

Once a smart contract is deployed on the blockchain, its code becomes immutable, making it extremely difficult to correct errors and vulnerabilities. This underscores the importance of thorough testing and code auditing before deployment. Otherwise, mistakes can lead to disastrous outcomes, as seen with CryptoKitties and Cryptozombies, where bugs in smart contracts resulted in the loss of valuable digital resources.

Best practices for smart account security

Given the risks associated with smart accounts, it’s crucial to follow best security practices throughout the lifecycle of smart contracts. Security should be an integral part of the smart contract design process, with careful consideration of contract logic, access structures, key management, and other critical aspects. For example, MakerDAO implemented a multi-tier permission structure and voting mechanism for managing its collateralized stablecoin system with security in mind.

Secure development of smart contracts involves using formal verification methods and proofs to ensure code correctness, engaging independent experts to audit the code before deployment, and applying secure programming patterns and standards, such as OpenZeppelin and Solidity Security Best Practices. Even after deployment, continuous monitoring of smart contract security is essential, as new threats and vulnerabilities can emerge at any time.

The future of smart account security

As blockchain and smart contract technologies evolve, new approaches and tools are emerging to enhance smart account security. AI and machine learning are being used for automatic vulnerability detection and error identification in smart contract code. Zero-Knowledge Proofs (ZKPs) are maintaining transaction privacy, and Secure Multi-Party Computation (MPC) is protecting confidential data by allowing computations on encrypted data without revealing the data itself. Formal verification provides mathematical proof of smart contract code correctness.

While quantum computers are still in early development stages, they may pose a future threat to the cryptographic algorithms used in blockchains. Malicious actors with sufficiently powerful quantum computers could potentially break traditional cryptographic systems used in blockchains. Smart contract developers should monitor this development and adapt their security systems using quantum-resistant algorithms.

Open-source communities play a crucial role in raising smart contract security standards. Collaboration, knowledge sharing, and tool improvement contribute to a more secure ecosystem. Examples of such communities include OpenZeppelin, the Ethereum Security Community, and Ethereum Cat Herders.

Education and awareness in smart account security

Ensuring the security of smart accounts involves education and awareness. This includes training developers, auditors, users, and other blockchain ecosystem participants on security best practices, threats, vulnerabilities, and prevention methods.

Smart contract developers should be well-versed in secure programming principles, security threats, and prevention techniques. This includes understanding common vulnerabilities like buffer overflows, coding errors, and access management issues, as well as using tools and methodologies for detecting and fixing such vulnerabilities.

Smart contract security auditors should be trained in using specialized tools and methodologies to analyze smart contract code, identify vulnerabilities, and recommend fixes. They should also stay updated on the latest threats and trends in blockchain security.

Users of smart accounts and decentralized applications also play a crucial role. They should be aware of security risks and best practices. This can include training on the secure storage and use of private keys, understanding phishing risks and other fraud types, and using tools and services to monitor the security of their smart accounts.

Conclusion

Smart account security is critically important in the era of digital transactions and decentralized applications. From secure development and auditing of smart contracts to education and awareness, compliance with regulatory requirements and security standards, and continuous monitoring and evaluation of security—all these aspects are key to ensuring the security of smart accounts.

Smart account security

Jun 14, 2024 — 5 min read

Cybersquatting, i.e., the registration of domain names similar to a trademark already owned by someone, has existed for about as long as the Internet itself. However, even today, many companies are new to encounters with individuals who want to make money from the similarity of domains.

To successfully combat cybersquatters, it's important to consider their possible interest before registering a domain name for your website. What should you think about and what actions should you take? We explain in this article.

What is cybersquatting?

A person who registers domains that are consistent with someone else's trademarks is called a cybersquatter. Their non-cybersquatter counterpart, the common squatter, occupies a vacant building and asserts rights to it.

The principle remains the same, while the object is the humble ‘Domain’. Is there a company or brand name, but the domain consonant with it is somehow free? Then it needs to be occupied, sat on comfortably, and held until the owner who needs this domain name pays a ransom for it.

Simply put, cybersquatting is a type of entrepreneurial activity. Its goal: to be the first to find a potentially needed domain, register it for a standard symbolic value, and then resell it at a much higher price.

Types of cybersquatting

With many people wanting to make money on your website's domain or another company’s web resource, several types of cybersquatting exist:

Typosquatting or counting on user error involves registering a name one letter different from the original. If there’s a website example.com, registering exemple.com means some visitors will land there due to the typo. By displaying ads before they realize their mistake, you can make money.

Branded cybersquatting or counting on fame. A company has registered the domain example.ru, but it didn’t use example.com or example.biz. These will be registered by a cybersquatter.

Unsuccessful cybersquatting. An entrepreneur wants to launch a new product and announces his plans on social networks without registering the domain. The cybersquatter will get there first and the entrepreneur will have to pay more for the domain.

Cybersquatting with a trademark, which by law is worth more than the registered domain name. A site without a registered trademark finds a cybersquatter, who registers the TM for himself and, voilà, can now legally take away the domain through the court.

Drop domain cybersquatting involves domains not renewed in time by the rightful holder. Such a domain falls into a special section of the registrar's site, where the most promising quickly pass into the hands of entrepreneurs. When the owner remembers that the domain has not been renewed, it already belongs to another person.

Another phenomenon often confused with cybersquatting is called domaining. In this case, entrepreneurs use popular words in various industries without claiming a specific unique domain name. This is done expecting that someone wanting to create a new site will buy a favorable and easy-to-promote domain at a higher price.

For domains, words like business, photo, market, shop, and others are often used in various combinations. They also often take the surnames of famous people and names of settlements. The domain ivanivanov.ru could interest an entrepreneur with this name. Cityname.com with the name of a particular city is suitable for the site of its administrative structures or tourist portal.

How cybersquatters choose domains

Registering hundreds and thousands of unique domains with all kinds of typos and similar names is expensive. To keep his business afloat, it's important for a cybersquatter to choose successful combinations. To do this, entrepreneurs specializing in the resale of domain names often:

• Monitor situations in companies. For example, rumors of a merger between companies A and B. Therefore, a name containing fragments of each of their names is likely needed. Cybersquatters can register these before employees of the new large organization.

• Look for companies that already exist but don't have their own website yet. For example, those finding customers through social networks and other marketing channels. Domains consonant with their names are also bought for the future.

• Check the registration of a trademark on the company's domain name. The scheme of taking the domain from the owner is not always possible, but it still works.

Cybersquatting is real

Companies often believe those wanting to register a domain and resell it more favorably exist in a parallel universe. However, companies all over the world regularly encounter them.

Not all disputes over a domain arise for personal gain and fit the definition of cybersquatting. Sometimes the reason is the consonance in the names of two companies. For example, in 2014, the recruitment portal HeadHunter sued the Russia-based company HH&HR over the use of the domain hh-hr.ru. The court sided with the portal and ruled to seize the domain name in its favor. At that time, HeadHunter had no intention of using the domain name for commercial purposes.

But in 2017, Google sued Vitaly Popov over a case more akin to cybersquatting. The domain secret.ɢoogle.com was used to send messages saying "Vote for Trump" during the US election. The name differed from Google by just one letter. It started with an uppercase but small Latin "G", i.e., "ɢ", which in Unicode is denoted by the symbol 0262.

The battle between Italian clothing brand Lotto Sports Italy and Canadian David Dent for the domains LottoStore.com and LottoWorks.com ended with the latter winning. However, it was an epic two-part duel. The Canadian resident bought the two domains and planned to create gaming-themed websites. The clothing brand sued Dent and initially won. The court ordered the transfer of the domain names to the company. The Canadian appealed, and Lotto Sports Italy was eventually found guilty of reverse domain seizure. The company paid $237,000.

Cybersquatters and the law

No matter how dubious the activity of some squatters may seem, it doesn't negate the fact: cybersquatting is entirely within the legal field. It's not illegal to register domains and trademark names.

Yet the world is trying to combat cybersquatters. The main arbiter of domain disputes is the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation), which unites 157 member countries. It has developed the UDRP — Uniform Domain Dispute Resolution Policy.

There are two ways for companies and brands that have faced domain name seizure: pay the amount demanded by the cybersquatter or go to court, where it's necessary to provide justification for their claims to the domain. For those slow to act, there's a third option: wait. If the domain name is rare and doesn't cause other market participants particular interest, the cybersquatter might eventually reduce the price. However, this is a path with unpredictable results.

Summing up: how to fight cybersquatting

It's important not only to know what cybersquatting is but also to think in advance about how to protect yourself from this phenomenon. A few simple rules will help:

• Check for a domain that matches the name of the company or brand before finalizing the name. Using an original, "off-the-beaten-path" name reduces the risk of domain disputes due to conflicts of interest.

• Don't publicize the brand or company name before the domain name is officially registered. Cybersquatters don't sleep! — Don't limit yourself to one domain when registering. It's better to choose several similar ones in different popular domain zones. This reduces the risk of someone creating dubious content on a similar domain.

• Register a trademark on the selected domain name immediately. This isn't a panacea, but in most domain disputes, its presence becomes a decisive argument for the court.

• Make timely payments for domain renewal to avoid dealing with squatters who quickly re-register drop domains to themselves.

If you can do all of this — it’s safe to say that you’ll be safe from the squatters!

Your domain is my domain: how to protect yourself from cybersquatting

Jun 4, 2024 — 3 min read

Passwork 6.4, we have introduced a number of changes which enhance our browser extension security, make user permissions settings more flexible, and improve the logging of settings related changes:

  • Mandatory extension PIN code
  • Logging of all changes related to settings
  • User access to history of actions with passwords
  • Automatic updating of LDAP group lists

Mandatory extension PIN code

With the new setting ‘Mandatory PIN code in extension’, administrators can set a mandatory browser extension PIN code for all users, minimizing potential unauthorized access. Once enabled, users who have not yet set a PIN code will be prompted to do so upon their next login to the extension. Users will be able to configure their auto-lock timeout and change the PIN code, but they cannot disable these functions.

The ‘Mandatory PIN code in extension’ setting is located in the ‘API, extension and mobile app’ section of the System settings

Now all changes in the Account settings, User management, LDAP settings, SSO settings, License info, and Background tasks are displayed in the Activity log.

All changes related to settings logged in the Activity log in the Settings and users

History of actions with passwords

The new setting ‘Who can view the history of actions with passwords’ makes it possible for vault administrators to let other users view password history, password editions, and receive notifications related to their changes. Previously, these features were available only to vault administrators.

You can customize this feature in the Vaults section of the System settings

Automatic updating of LDAP group lists

Automatic updating of LDAP group lists can now be configured on the Groups tab in the LDAP settings. The update is performed through background tasks with a selected time interval.

To configure LDAP group list updates, select LDAP server, go to the Groups tab, and click the Edit settings button

Other improvements

  • Added pop-up notifications when exporting data or moving data to the Bin
  • Improved display of dropdown lists on the Activity log page
  • Changed time display format of the ‘Automatic logout when inactive’ and ‘Maximum lifetime of the session when inactive’ settings
  • Changed the Enabled / Disabled dropdown lists on the System settings and LDAP settings pages with toggles
  • Increased minimum length of generated passwords to six characters

Bug fixes

  • Fixed an issue in the Password generator where selected characters were sometimes missing in the generated password
  • Fixed an issue where local users could not independently recover their account password when an LDAP server was enabled
  • Fixed an issue where local users could not register in Passwork when an LDAP server was enabled
  • Fixed an issue which occurred after moving a folder with shortcuts to another vault and shortcuts not being displayed in the new vault
  • Fixed an issue that occurred when trying to move a shortcut found in search results without opening any vaults right after logging into Passwork
  • Fixed an issue that occurred when trying to copy a password found in search results without opening any vaults right after logging into Passwork
  • Fixed an issue that occurred when a password was sent to another user and remained on the recipient's Recents and Starred pages after the initial password was moved to the Bin
  • Fixed the value in the time field for the ‘API key rotation period (in hours)’ setting which was reset to zero after disabling it
  • Fixed incorrect event logging in the Activity log after changing folder permissions
  • Fixed incorrect text notification about assigning access rights to a user through a role
  • Fixed incorrect tooltip text when hovering over the username of a recently created user
  • Fixed incorrect display of long invitation titles
  • Removed the local registration page when the LDAP server is enabled

Passwork 6.4

May 28, 2024 — 3 min read

A simple file or photograph shared with a colleague might encompass data that the sender didn't plan to divulge. For instance, a snapshot of a cat, besides the visible content, might inform the recipient about the location and time it was captured, and even the gadget utilized.

This holds true for social media platforms — an image uploaded online harbors details that might not only jeopardize the user but also disclose, perhaps, their whereabouts. Moreover, e-commerce transactions and various online actions create such digital traces. However, not everyone is acquainted with the concept of file metadata at present.

In this piece, we will elucidate the potential hazards of file metadata, ways to safeguard it, and how to individually eliminate undesired data embedded in transmitted images and other files.

The dangers of metadata

All our online activities — sharing images, and files, posting articles, curating music playlists, shopping, and so forth — create so-called digital traces besides the conveyed information. These are generated mainly due to metadata. Frequently, this reality is overlooked by the general populace, escalating the risk of unauthorized activities.

By analyzing, say, images on social platforms, a malefactor can deduce a victim's regular routes, favorite spots, and preferences. Utilizing this data, they might orchestrate a phishing scheme or employ social engineering tactics.

It's vital to note that corporations are equally, if not more, vulnerable compared to individual users when metadata falls into the wrong hands. Metadata can often assist criminals in decoding pilfered data. Hence, without comprehending the file's content and its potential use, cyber criminals resort to metadata, facilitating a quicker comprehension and monetization of the stolen assets. Alternatively, they might exploit metadata to ascertain the software utilized by a firm and plan a more targeted assault.

Metadata is generated automatically, without user intervention. Typically, it encompasses details about the creation time and place, attributes, author's remarks (if added to the file), and information about the software version used during creation. This data is quite personal and sensitive, given that in certain scenarios, metadata can narrate the history of file transfers and modifications.

The purpose of metadata

Primarily, metadata facilitates license restriction implementation and author identification. Furthermore, it aids websites and apps in organizing and recognizing content. And, for telecom operators, it helps in monitoring user engagement on specific platforms.

Any targeted marketing, audience segmentation based on preferences, location, habits, and professional sphere, stems from analyzing user metadata, or more precisely, the digital imprints left on social platforms and the broader internet. Metadata enables marketers to discern not only your smartphone model but also alarmingly accurate search queries.

Securing and erasing metadata 

Metadata is safeguarded similarly to conventional data, particularly concerning organizations rather than individual users. For the layman, the optimal approach is to erase metadata prior to file transmission to prevent the dissemination of unnecessary data and avoid leaving digital traces.

On an iPhone, it's straightforward to remove photo metadata:
• Launch the Photos application and choose the image you wish to strip of metadata
• Tap the "Share" symbol at the lower right corner and opt for the "Do not retain metadata" feature
• Press the "Done" button

To view a file's metadata on Android, Google Photos needs to be downloaded, and for deletion, a third-party application is required. Numerous choices are available in the store; it's advisable to scrutinize the description and additional features while selecting.

Additional tools and tips

Also, websites offering metadata removal services are excellent tools where you can effortlessly upload files prior to sending them, without the necessity to download anything or alter device settings. It should be noted that free versions impose file size restrictions, generally up to 5MB.

As per experts, the supreme strategy for metadata protection is to eliminate any metadata that might disclose sensitive details before dispatching a document anywhere. Moreover, if required, app software can be pre-configured to prevent metadata storage in documents altogether.

In the context of work-related files, metadata can be discarded when sharing them externally, but internally and when collaborating with contractors, metadata serves as a crucial component. Metadata functions as a historical record, aiding in understanding the preceding data, especially if older datasets are preserved.

Sensitive EXIF data encapsulates vital technical specifics about an image. It can reveal the camera or phone's brand and model, the creation time, and even the camera and flash configurations.

This data can be effortlessly deleted in Windows via Explorer. You need to launch it, navigate to the desired image, right-click on it, and choose "Properties," followed by the "Details" tab, where properties and personal information can be easily removed.

Conclusion

You can remove metadata using applications, online utilities, fundamental device configurations, and settings during transmission. However, remember that metadata can be beneficial, particularly concerning work-related matters. For instance, metadata can assist in identifying the software and editor used to create a file, its initial title, and creation date. This might facilitate file conversion or its utilization in a new system. Moreover, even a regular user might need to recall the time and place of file creation or image capture.

But it's essential to remember that if metadata isn't safeguarded, the same details can be accessed by an adversary and used against you. For instance, knowledge about the software version and other device specifics can be highly valuable for cyber criminals when choosing tools for.

Metadata 101

May 13, 2024 — 3 min read

2023 was characterized by an evolving array of cyber threats and a significantly broadened spectrum of digital vulnerabilities, pushing organizations to reassess and strengthen their cybersecurity infrastructures. Despite a widespread yearning for a break from the relentless tide of phishing, ransomware, and credential stuffing incidents, cybercriminals are gearing up to use their proven strategies from this period to orchestrate even more intricate and damaging campaigns in 2024. It’s become increasingly imperative for those in the cybersecurity realm to forecast and brace for the predominant challenges and trends that will define the cybersecurity landscape in 2024.

The following are key prognostications intended to serve as vital strategic insights for IT and cybersecurity professionals, aiding them in effectively prioritizing their efforts to navigate and mitigate the rapidly evolving threat landscape

Compromised credentials

The ongoing reliance on traditional usernames and passwords for access control and authentication has perpetuated the issue of compromised credentials. This has been a consistent weak spot, often exploited in cyberattacks. Detailed analyses of data breaches repeatedly pinpoint compromised credentials as a principal attack vector. Intriguingly, a study by the Identity Defined Security Alliance (IDSA) highlights that identity-related cyberattacks are both widespread (with 94% of respondents experiencing such attacks) and largely preventable (with a 99% prevention rate). Despite these alarming statistics, a significant number of organizations remain underprepared, lacking crucial identity-related security measures. This is particularly concerning given the rise of non-human identities stemming from digital transformations, such as in DevOps, cloud computing, and IoT (Internet of Things). Therefore, the expectation for 2024 is a continued emphasis on enhancing identity security, with organizations encouraged to intensify their implementation of Zero Trust models and decrease their dependency on traditional password-based systems.

Ransomware

Ransomware has proven to be a lucrative venture for cybercriminals, who exploit vulnerabilities within organizations to execute devastating attacks. Examples of these include high-profile breaches involving entities like the Kansas Court System, Yamaha Motors, and Western Digital. The emergence of Ransomware-as-a-Service has simplified the process of launching such attacks. Over the past year, ransomware tactics have evolved into complex extortion schemes, involving not just data encryption but also data exfiltration and threats of public disclosure if ransoms aren't paid. This trend was exemplified by the Alphv/BlackCat ransomware group's SEC complaint against MeridianLink. With new SEC disclosure regulations mandating prompt reporting of major cybersecurity incidents, such tactics are expected to gain even more traction. Therefore, enterprises are advised to enhance their ransomware preparedness, with a specific focus on the recovery of endpoints and essential infrastructure like Active Directory.

Hacktivism amidst global conflicts

The intersection of global conflicts and the upcoming 2024 Presidential elections in the United States is expected to create a fertile environment for hacktivism. Hacktivists, often self-identified as defenders of free speech, may seek to disrupt the controlled flow of information during times of conflict or elections by exposing sensitive data or initiating cyberattacks. This could lead to a blurring of lines between state-sponsored hacking and independent hacktivist activities. The role of hacktivists in influencing public opinion through various cyber operations, including the potential use of deepfake technologies, is expected to be significant in 2024.

Vulnerability management 

In response to the increasing exploitation of zero-day vulnerabilities by cyber adversaries, the White House's National Cybersecurity Strategy, released in March 2023, has redirected focus towards organizations' responsibility to secure their software. This strategy underscores the importance of comprehensive vulnerability management, which involves identifying, assessing, prioritizing, and mitigating security vulnerabilities. This increased emphasis on liability for independent software vendors is anticipated to drive technological advancements in vulnerability management tools and bring renewed attention to this critical aspect of cybersecurity.

Transformation in security awareness training

The realm of security awareness training is poised for a significant transformation in 2024. With the widespread adoption of generative artificial intelligence in the sphere of cyber threats, traditional training methods are becoming obsolete. Future training programs are expected to integrate continuous breach and attack simulations (BAS) to test and enhance the effectiveness of user-focused controls. These programs will also likely focus on equipping software developers with secure coding practices to preemptively address vulnerabilities.

Conclusion

In summary, the year 2024 emphasizes the crucial need for a delicate balance between robust cybersecurity measures and the resilience to adapt to cyber threats. As IT and security professionals prepare for the challenges ahead, prioritizing the continuous visibility, protection, and management of the entire digital attack surface is paramount. Protecting mission-critical assets and developing the capability to anticipate, withstand, recover from, and adapt to various cyberattacks will remain at the forefront of effective organizational cybersecurity strategies.

Five cybersecurity predictions for 2024

May 5, 2024 — 5 min read

Of course, losing access to your Google or Gmail account is going to be upsetting. If you've forgotten your password, or if someone has hacked into your account and changed it, Google provides a list of actions that you may take to regain access to your account. Indeed, they may come in handy at times, but the methods of password recovery for Google accounts tend to change from time to time and relying on them as a fallback is never a good idea.

Not only have we provided all the necessary links in the “Password recovery” section down below for those who have lost access to certain accounts, but we’ll today be focusing on what can be done to ensure you never lose access to your account again. Here are some things to consider:

Regularly backup your data

If you have a current backup of your data, it will be less of a blow if you ever lose access to your account. Takeout is the name Google has given to the feature that allows you to download your data. You may download all of the data from all of your Google applications, or just part of the data from some of them. You might even decide to download the data from a single app, such as Gmail, from your Google account.

For each sort of data, the download formats are different. For example, MBOX files may be imported to Gmail or most other email services and applications.

Keep your old passwords

Keep a copy of your old passwords in case you forget your current one. Google uses this method to verify your identity if you ever lose your password. In the event that you haven't updated your password in a while, you may not be able to recall your old password. It's a good idea to maintain a copy of your previous Google passwords in a secure place when you change your password.

When using a password manager such as Passwork, you can keep track of your previous passwords. Because of that, we strongly recommend using one. When you establish a new password on an app or website, most password managers only allow you to update the current entry; however, with a password manager, you may create a new password and then go back and change the name of the old one to something like "Gmail — old password". By the way, this is also a problem with Apple Keychain — when you change your password, it asks whether you would like to update your old password. You’ll obviously press “Update”, and bam, your previous password is lost in the void. So keep an eye on that.

Why is this important? Well, as we’ve hinted at, Google asks you to enter the previous password in some cases as a fallback plan.

Fill in the recovery info

Google provides you with many ways to recover your password:

  1. Go to your Google account and choose "Security" from the left-hand column
  2. Scroll all the way down to "Ways that we can verify that it’s you"
  3. Fill them in
  4. PROFIT

Now, Google will use those options to recover your password when needed, or just to verify it’s you when weird login behaviour is detected. Among all the options, the ‘Recovery phone’ is the most convenient one — trust me, you’ll forget that ‘Security Question’ in just a few days. ‘Recovery email’, to be honest, isn't secure enough — we, Earthlings, tend to use weak passwords, so your account might be compromised if a hacker manages to guess your ‘NicknameDateOFBirth’ password.

Remember the day you registered

If everything else fails, Google may ask you to provide an estimated date of when you created the account. The best way to get this date is by searching for a Gmail welcome email.

To locate the welcome email, go to the ‘All Mail’ folder on your computer (to see it, you may need to click ‘More’ to expand the folders). You may also hover your cursor over the page information in the upper right-hand corner and choose ‘Oldest’.

This will move the email you received first to the top of the list. If, on the other hand, you imported non-Gmail emails into your inbox from before 2004, the welcome email will not appear at the top of the inbox hierarchy. Also, if you haven’t imported all of your emails, you’ll encounter some problems.

The email may also be found by searching for "welcome," "Gmail team," "gmail-noreply@google.com," or "googlecommunityteam-noreply@google.com," among other similar words and phrases.

However, when I personally tried it, I couldn't find it. This is because I delete all the mail on my account once a year. For people like myself, there’s a weird hack — your POP settings might show the date on which you created your Gmail account.
To access them, click the gear icon in the top right-hand corner, select See all settings, then click Forwarding and POP/IMAP.

Look for the Status line in the POP download section. If you're fortunate, you'll come upon the following information:

Status: POP is enabled for all mail that has arrived since [Here is your date]”

Important:

If you’ve ever changed your POP settings, the date on which you created your Gmail account won’t be shown.

Password recovery

There’s only one place where you can recover your password — it’s this “Google Recovery” page. Everything else is likely phishing scams. The only other alternative option, in case of an adversary like losing your password, is the “Can’t sign into your Google Account” page.

Basically, you should follow the instructions on screen and pray to Google's mothership that hope shall be restored.

If your prayers haven’t been heard, and all pages cycle through a loop with a “Please try again” message, visit the “Tips to complete account recovery steps” page — it helped me several times to understand exactly what Google wants from me.

The last page you can visit, if everything else fails, is “Create a replacement Google Account”.

Conclusion

If you have important data stored on any cloud: Gmail, Google Drive, Docs, etc. — back them up using offline storage. Use two-factor authentication to always keep your mobile phone as a recovery option. Keep hold of your password change history and remember the date you registered your account.

I forgot my GMail password!

May 1, 2024 — 4 min read

If you’ve ever set up a wireless router on your own, you’ve probably heard of WPS. You might come across this term in the router’s configuration menus or see it on the backside of your router — but do you know what WPS actually means and how it works? If you can’t answer these questions yourself, then you’re in the right place.

What is WPS?

WPS stands for WiFi Protected Setup. It’s effectively a wireless network security standard that speeds up and simplifies the process of connecting your device with a router. It helps to do it quickly without entering a Wi-Fi password. To enable WPS you should find a tactile button located on the backside of your router or switch it on in the configurations menu of the router. When you turn it on, WPS mode allows you to connect your various devices to your router using the WPS password, also known as the WPA-PSA key.

In fact, WPS is not responsible for the Wi-Fi connection at all. It’s designed solely to send the connection data between the router and the wireless device. Remember, that’s an important distinction.

WPS was an idea of the nonprofit ‘Wi-Fi Alliance’. The alliance is effectively an association of the largest companies that create computers and Wi-Fi devices. More than 600 members take part, including companies such as Microsoft, Samsung, and Intel. Alliance was founded in 1999 to promote Wi-Fi technologies and certificate Wi-Fi products around the world. This standard was created in 2007 to simplify the connection process and since that time, most Wi-Fi systems around the world have adopted it.

How does WPS work?

If you want to connect your wireless device, you have to know the password to the Wi-Fi network. This process isn’t difficult but it takes some time to get the essential data. WPS makes it easier and a bit quicker.

There are some different ways to do it. First of all, WPS can be a workaround for connecting to Wi-Fi without a password. To do so, you should hit the WPS button on your router to enable device detection. Then, take your device and choose the network you need to connect to. The connection will be immediately available and the system won’t ask you to enter the password.

Some wireless electronic equipment like printers also has a WPS button that can be used to make rapid connections. All you have to do is to push both buttons, on the device and on the router, to get access to the wireless network. You don’t need to enter any data here, as the WPS delivers the password automatically. Also, that device will be able to connect to the same Wi-Fi router without pushing WPS buttons in the future as the password will be remembered.

The other option requires one to use the eight-digit PIN code. When WPS is enabled on a router, a PIN code is produced automatically. The WPS PIN can be found on the WPS setup page. Some devices that lack a WPS button will require the PIN. If you enter the wireless network, they verify themselves and connect to it.

The last option also can be done by using that eight-digit PIN. Some devices do not have the WPS button but also support WPS, so they will produce a client PIN that will be used by the router to connect the device to the network. You should just enter the PIN in the settings of your router to get access.

Unfortunately, methods that require using a PIN code don’t have any benefits in the speed of the connection process. You spend the same amount of time entering the router’s password and the WPS PIN, so you should just choose the way that’s more comfortable for you.

Which devices work with WPS?

WPS is supported by a wide range of devices, most commonly, wireless routers. However, you can also find a WPS button on wireless printers, Wi-Fi Range Extenders and Repeaters, which commonly provide WPS capabilities as well. Finally, the WPS functionality is available on a few higher-end laptops, tablets, smartphones, and 2-in-1 devices, where it’s usually implemented via software rather than physical buttons.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of WPS?

Despite the fact that WPS is embedded in most Wi-Fi equipment, the benefit of this standard is still a controversial issue. Some professionals opt for using it as it makes the connection to the router easier and quicker while others opt against it as WPS mitigates the security of the connection process.

Advantages:

1. It's quick, especially if both the router and the client device have the WPS button.

2. It's simple and requires no technical knowledge. There is no more primitive way of connecting Wi-Fi than pressing the WPS button on both the router and the client device.

3. Support is relatively strong. WPS is supported by all routers and most networking devices. WPS can also be used to establish rapid Wi-Fi network connections on the most common operating systems like Windows, Android, and Linux.

Disadvantages:

1. It isn't really safe. WPS connections using PINs appear to be particularly sensitive to brute-force attacks. A successful WPS attack allows an attacker to obtain access to your Wi-Fi network, and disabling WPS is the only viable remedy.

2. WPS can be used by anyone who has physical access to the router. So any person who is aware of the router’s location can connect it without your permission.

3. WPS is not supported by Apple. You can't connect to Wi-Fi using WPS if you have a Mac, an iPhone, or an iPad. This is because Apple has determined that WPS is insufficiently secure, and thus WPS isn’t not supported by any of the devices.

Conclusion

As we’ve found out, the WPS network’s security standard has both benefits and limitations. On the one hand, it helps us to avoid remembering the Wi-Fi password and connect quickly. On the other hand, WPS is not secure enough to foster user confidence across the board. So, it’s up to you to decide on using WPS or not. In any case, you can disable the function at any time you want by simply switching off the WPS button.

WPS – What is it, and how does it work?

Feb 14, 2024 — 3 min read

In Passwork 6.3, we have implemented numerous changes that significantly improve organization management efficiency, provide more flexible user permission settings, and increase security:

  • Administrative rights
  • Hidden vaults
  • Improved private vaults
  • Improved settings interface

Administrative rights

Available with the Advanced license

Now there is no need to make users administrators in order to grant them specific administrative rights. This option is a response to one of the most frequent requests from our customers.

Administrators can grant only those rights or permissions that are necessary for users to fulfill their duties and flexibly customize access to settings sections and manage Passwork. For instance, you can grant employees the right to create and edit new users, view the history of user activity, track settings changes, while restricting access to organization vaults and System settings.

You can configure additional rights on the Administrative rights tab in User management. There are four settings sections to flexibly customize Passwork for your business:

General

In this section, you can grant users access rights to manage all existing and new organization vaults, view the history of actions with settings and users, access license info and upload license keys, view and modify the parameters of SSO settings and Background tasks.

User management

In this section, you can grant users access rights to view and modify User management parameters. This includes performing any necessary actions with users and roles, such as creating, deleting, and editing users, changing their authorization type and sending invitations.

System settings

In this section of settings, you can grant users the right to view and modify specific groups of System settings.

LDAP settings

In this section, you can grant users the right to view and modify LDAP parameters which include adding and deleting servers, registering new users, managing group lists, viewing and configuring synchronization settings.

Activity log

The event of changing user administrative rights has been added to the Activity log. All changes are now recorded in the Activity log, that includes the users who initiated such changes as well as each setting that was modified with its previous and current values.

Interface improvements

Users with additional administrative rights are marked with a special icon next to their user status.

Some items remain unavailable until the necessary settings have been activated. When hovering your cursor over such items, a tooltip with information regarding dependent settings will be displayed.

Hidden vaults

In the previous versions of Passwork only organization administrators were able to hide vaults. Also, only organization vaults could be hidden. In this new version, all users can hide any vaults. Hiding makes vaults invisible only to the users who choose to do it and does not affect others.

Hidden vault management is now carried out in a new window, which is available directly from the list of vaults. You can view the list of all available vaults and customize their visibility there.

Private vault improvements

Displaying private vaults in User management

Besides hiding private vaults, employees with User management access can now see all vaults which they administer (including private vaults). The new feature which makes it possible to add users to private vaults has also been added to User management.

Logging of events in private vaults

Private vault administrators can view all events related to their vaults in the Activity log.

Other changes

  • Fixed an issue which prevented users from changing their temporary master password
  • Fixed an issue which prevented users from setting the minimum length for authorization and master passwords
  • Fixed an issue in User management which made administrator self-deletion possible
  • Minor improvements to the settings interface

Introducing Passwork 6.3

Feb 11, 2024 — 4 min read

Self-signed certificates are widely used in testing environments and they are excellent alternatives to purchasing and renewing yearly certifications.

That is of course if you know how and, more importantly, when to use them. Remember, that A self-signed certificate is not signed by a publicly trusted Certificate Authority (CA). Self-signed certificates are considered different from traditional CA certificates that are signed and issued by a CA because self-signed certificates are created, issued, and signed by the company or developer who is responsible for the website or software associated with the certificate.

You are probably reading this article because for some reason, you need to create a self-signed certificate with Windows. So, we’ve tried to outline the easiest ways to do that. This article is up-to-date as of December 2021. By the way, we’re referring to Windows 10 for all the following tutorials. As far as we know, the processes for Windows 11 are identical.

So what are our options?

Using Let’s Encrypt.

These guys offer free CA certificates with various SAN and wildcard support. The certificate is only good for 90 days, but they do give an automated renewal method. This is a great alternative for a quick proof-of-concept. Other options would require more typing, for sure.

But this option works only if you want to generate a certificate for your website. The best way to start is by going to Getting Started, the instructions thereafter are very easy to follow.

Other one-click option:

We’ve reviewed different online services that allow you to easily generate self-signed certificates. We’ve sorted them from one-click to advanced, and the first one is:

Selfsignedcertificate.com

Just enter your domain name — and you are ready to go:


Getacert.com

Fill out the following fields:

Press “Next”, then confirm your details, and get your certificate:

It’s that easy!

Сertificatetools.com

Among the online services that allow you to generate self-signed certificates, this one is the most advanced; just look at all available options to choose from:

Now let’s continue with offline solutions, that are a bit more advanced:

PowerShell 4.0

1. Press the Windows key, type Powershell. Right-click on PowerShell and select Run as Administrator.

2. Run the New-SelfsignedCertificate command, as shown below.

$cert = New-SelfSignedCertificate -certstorelocation 
cert:localmachinemy -dnsname passwork.com

3. This will add the certificate to the locater store on your PC. Replace passwork.com with your domain name in the above command.

4. Next, create a password for your export file:

$pwd = ConvertTo-SecureString -String ‘password!’ -Force -AsPlainText

5. Replace password with your own password.

6. Enter the following command to export the self-signed certificate:

$path = 'cert:localMachinemy' + $cert.thumbprint 
Export-PfxCertificate -cert $path -FilePath 
c:tempcert.pfx -Password $pwd

7. In the above command, replace c:temp with the directory where you want to export the file.

8. Import the exported file and deploy it for your project.

Use OpenSSL

1. Download the latest OpenSSL windows installer from a third-party source;

2. Run the installer. OpenSSL requires Microsoft Visual C++ to run. The installer will prompt you to install Visual C++ if it is already not installed;

3. Click Yes to install;

4. Run the OpenSSL installer again and select the installation directory;

5. Click Next;

6. Open Command Prompt and type OpenSSL to get an OpenSSL prompt.

The next step would be to generate a public/private key file pair.

1. Open Command Prompt and create a new directory on your C drive:

C: >cd Test

2. Now go to the new directory:

C: Test>

3. Now you need to type the path of the OpenSSL install directory followed by the RSA key algorithm:

C: Test>c:opensslbinopenssl genrsa -out privkey.pem 4096

4. Run the following command to split the generated file into separate private and public key files:

C: Test>c:opensslbinopenssl ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -f privkey.pem

Once you have the public/private key generated, follow the next set of steps to create a self-signed certificate file on Windows.

1. Go to the directory that you created earlier for the public/private key file:

C: Test>

2. Enter the path of the OpenSSL install directory, followed by the self-signed certificate algorithm:

C: Test>c:opensslbinopenssl req -new -x509 -key privkey.pem -out cacert.pem -days 109

3. Follow the on-screen instructions;

4. You need to enter information about your organization, region, and contact details to create a self-signed certificate.

We also have a detailed article on OpenSSL – it contains more in-depth instructions on generating self-signed certificates.

Using IIS

This is one of those hidden features that very few people know about.

1. From the top-level in IIS Manager, select “Server Certificates”;

2. Then click the “Create” button on the right;

3. This will create a self-signed certificate, valid for a year with a private key. It will only work for “localhost”.

We hope this fruit bowl of options provides you with some choice in the matter. Creating your own self-signed certificate nowadays is trivial, but only until you begin to understand how they really work.

Our option of choice is, of course, OpenSSL — after all, it is an industry-standard.

7 ways to create self-signed certificates on Windows

Feb 10, 2024 — 4 min read

Are you having trouble remembering your passwords or accessing your account? Perhaps you’re stressing out that you may have been hacked? Well, in any case, restoring your Facebook account utilising reliable Facebook account recovery solutions shall be covered by this article, so buckle up!

In order to regain access to your Facebook account, you can use one of several automated methods. Many are based on the information you provided when you set up your account, which isn’t helpful if you can’t remember the most important piece of information you provided when you set up the account — your password. Also, some information will be out of date, like your recovery phone number or your active email address.

And even if all methods listed below fail, we’ve got an alternative for you right at the very bottom of the article.

Firstly, make sure that you aren't still logged into Facebook somewhere else!

Android and iOS Facebook apps, as well as mobile browsers may all be used to access the site, so you might be logged in on them.

If you are logged in, you can ‘recover’ your account by simply changing the password, and it can be done without a confirmation reset code!

But if you are not logged into Facebook on other devices or browsers — try Facebook's Default Account Recovery Methods.

If at all feasible, log into your Facebook account using the same internet connection and computer or phone that you've used on a regular basis in the past. If Facebook detects your network and device, you may be able to reset your password without having to provide any extra information to Facebook. But first and foremost, you must authenticate your account.

Find and recover your account by providing contact information

The best option is to directly go to the Facebook Recovery Page.

To sign in, enter an email address or phone number that you previously associated with your Facebook profile. When looking for a phone number, test it both with and without your country code, for example, 1, +1, or 001 for the United States; all three variants should work just fine. Even if it doesn't explicitly say so, you may use your Facebook credentials to log in — instead of your mobile number or email.

Your profile will be summarised once you have successfully identified your account, as seen in the screenshot below. Please double-check that this is indeed your account and that you still have access to the email address or phone number mentioned before proceeding. The option of choosing between email or phone recovery may still be available to you.

If everything appears to be in order with the contact information that Facebook has on file for you, though, click Continue. A security code will be sent to you by Facebook.

Retrieve the code from your email or phone (depending on whatever method you used), input it, and rejoice in the knowledge that you have regained access to your Facebook profile.

At this point, you have the option of creating a new password, which we highly advise you to do.

If you don't receive the code via email, check your spam folder, or make sure you can receive text messages from unknown senders if the code doesn't arrive to your mobile.

If you are still unable to receive the code, choose Didn't get a code? from the drop-down menu. You can return to the previous screen by clicking the X in the bottom-left corner of the Enter Security Code box.

Maybe you'll get lucky and discover that you don't, in fact, have access to the account at all!

Log back into your Facebook account

You should immediately reset your password and update your contact information if you have regained access to your Facebook account after a suspected hijacking.

To keep your Facebook account safe, follow two simple rules. Don't forget to get rid of any email addresses or phone numbers that you no longer have access to. Also, enable two-factor authentication on all of your social media accounts in order to prevent a loss of access in the future.

Don’t forget, the Facebook Help Community is a great place to find answers to your issues.

If all else fails, creating a new Facebook profile might not be as bad as you think

Over the past few years, we've received a large number of letters from users who were unable to regain access to their Facebook accounts, despite following each and every one of the instructions listed above.

Typically, their contact information was out of date, the recovery codes offered by Facebook were ineffective, or the corporation never responded to their request for identification verification. And at that point, you’re pretty much out of options.

You have to accept the fact that you must move on. Even though it's painful, you must learn from your mistakes and register a new user account.

Always include legitimate contact details, don’t forget to up the security on your Facebook account, and completely re-create your profile from the ground up. Despite the inconvenience, it’s a better option than doing nothing. Not to mention, you won’t have any of those embarrassing old photos, and you can only add people as friends that really matter to you now.

How to recover your Facebook account