Tag Archives: security

OS X Is Still Using an Old Encryption Method for PDF Files

Mac OS X’s PDF encryption still uses 128-bit RC4 which is compatible with Adobe 5.0 and later. 128-bit RC4 is a weak encryption algorithm and people generally don’t recommend it. I use Adobe Acrobat X to encrypt my PDF files instead and choose the strongest AES256 algorithm compatible with Adobe Reader X or later. Note that there is AES256 encryption in Acrobat 9, but it has security flaw which makes it easier to brute force passwords than Acrobat 8.

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Root Account and Single User Mode

To discourage people to use the root account, by default some distro such as Ubuntu don’t set a password for the root user. This way people cannot login with the root account directly. However, without setting a password for root user, people can log into single user mode (aka recovery mode) with the root account without password, and then the user can do anything including change the password of any users.

You should set a password for the root user even if the distro doesn’t tell you to do so during the installation. If you haven’t set up a password for the root user yet, you can do so by typing sudo passwd root and type the new password. Once you set the password for the root user, next time you log in to single user mode or recovery mode, it will ask you for root’s password instead of just let you in.