Strip Password From A Password-Protected PDF

One company likes to send me a password-protected PDF every month, and it can be a pain typing in the password every time. Fortunately, we don’t have to! To completely remove the password from password-protected PDFs, keep reading!

Now, there are times when removing the password from a password-protected PDF is against corporate policy or may be a violation of regulations. I suppose a good rule might be, “Don’t tamper with the password protection unless the PDF belongs to you.”

That said, it’s actually pretty easy to remove the passwords from password-protected PDFs. It’s easy and I’ll show you how! This won’t even have to be a very long article!

Remove Password From A Password-Protected PDF:

Like oh so many of my articles, this one starts with the terminal open. If you don’t know how to do that, it’s easy. Just use your keyboard and press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal emulator will open.

The tool we’ll be using is called ‘qpdf‘ and it describes itself as:

PDF transformation software

Once you have that open, one of the following should help you install qpfd:

Debian/Ubuntu:

Arch/Manjaro:

RHEL/Fedora:

Any of those should get you to the point where qpdf is installed, and there shouldn’t be (m)any dependencies. Using it is just as easy as installing it.

Obviously, you change “PASSWORD” to the password that’s used in the password-protected PDF to the actual password. You also use the name (and path) of the PDF and a new name for the new PDF that has no password. That will, of course, remove the password and you can delete the original after verifying that it worked.

BONUS:

You can actually use qpdf to make a password-protected PDF. It’s also easy and the command would look like this:

In this case, the PASSWORD is your new password and it must be typed twice. The 256 is the key-length used to encrypt the PDF. To get more information like that, just run:

In there, you’ll see that qpdf is really quite a potent application. It can do so much more than just stripping the password from a password-protected PDF. So, give that help file a scan and see what other features it has!

CLOSURE:

See? I told you that this article wouldn’t take all that long. Best part? It’s another in what’s a growing list of articles and it’s something you can actually use when you get a password-protected PDF. Again, if you’re gainfully employed or in a regulated occupation you may not want to remove the password protection.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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How To: Use sudo Without A Password

It is possible to use sudo without a password. Doing so is probably a pretty bad idea for most people, but it can be done. Password-less sudo is an option that you have, but it’s one heck of a security risk.

I have pretty good physical security and the risks of someone physically accessing my devices are pretty minimal. There’s no neighbors that can access my WiFi, or anything like that. Because of this, I can, and sometimes do, set up my computers so that I don’t need to use a password when I use sudo.

I feel like I need to make this clear:

If you set it up to use sudo without a password, you’re removing a key security element. If you can use sudo without a password, so can’t someone who’d be doing so with malice aforethought. It’d be even more risky if you did this on a laptop that might get misplaced or stolen.

In short: DO NOT DO THIS (without considering the security implications).

By the way, if you don’t know what sudo is, it stands for “superuser do”. It’s what you use to temporarily elevate your permissions, to read, write, or execute administrative (or otherwise restricted) files. Basically, it turns you into an omnipotent administrator. 

Again, be careful before doing this. If it makes you an omnipotent user, it makes anyone that can access the device an omnipotent user. You have been warned. If you’re comfortable with your physical security, this is an option. It’s an option you should consider only with care and diligence. 

SUDO Without A Password:

     See Also: Generate Complex Passwords

Like so many things, this too starts in the terminal. As always, you can open your terminal with your keyboard, just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open. Once it is open, enter the following to open the file with nano:

Arrow button yourself down to the bottom and add the following line:

Where it says “<your_username>” you change it to your username – without the brackets. So, if your username were the same as mine, you’d make a line that looks like:

The ‘kgiii’ is lowercase, and your username will be lowercase. If, for some reason, you don’t actually know your username, you can find it with:

Anyhow, after you’ve added that line, you can save the file. As we’re using nano, you save it by pressing CTRL + X, then Y, and then ENTER

That should get you sorted and you should now be able to use sudo without a password. If you are aware of the security implications, this may just be something you want to do. On the other hand, it’s not exactly taxing to type your password.

Closure:

And, once again, you have another article! I’ve reached the point where I have a small buffer. I could be offline for a few days and articles will still publish themselves. I’m hoping to get even further ahead, so we shall see how it goes.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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Let’s Use rkhunter To Look For Rootkits

In this article, we’ll go hunting for rootkits with a tool known as ‘rkhunter‘. It’s relatively easy to use rkhunter and this article will show you how. Don’t worry, it’s not all that complicated. You can do it.

So, what is a rootkit? Well, for the purposes of this exercise, a rootkit is malware that hides itself while allowing privileged access to the system. In other words, it’s the kit that allows an unauthorized person to use the system with root privileges. The word ‘malware‘ refers to software that would do you or your system harm.

A rootkit is one of many types of malware, like viruses and trojans, and Linux isn’t entirely immune to such. If you give an application privileges, it can and will use those privileges. That’s true for software you want and software you don’t want.

Malware exists for Linux! Know what you’re installing before you install it, and get your software from legitimate sources! Linux has some security advantages, and your actions can easily nullify those advantages. If you give something the permissions necessary to make it executable, it can be executed – even if it’s malware.

The rkhunter application is a software tool that will help you check your system for rootkits and some other exploits. It doesn’t help you remove them, it only helps you identify them. 

If you’re curious, rkhunter describes itself as:

rkhunter is a shell script which carries out various checks on the local system to try and detect known rootkits and malware. It also performs checks to see if commands have been modified, if the system startup files have been modified, and various checks on the network interfaces, including checks for listening applications.

Let’s put it to use!

Hunt Rootkits With ‘rkhunter’:

In order to use rkhunter, you have to install it. It’s possibly in your default repos and your package manager is ready to install it. If not, you can grab a copy from their repository and build it. Those using Debian or the likes, can just install it with:

You can adjust that for your distro to see if it’s available. If it’s a mainstream distro, it’s probably available. Once installed, you start the scan with:

This command (there are others, jcheck man rkhunter) will be interactive. You need to sit there to press ENTER once in a while. It’s quick and monitoring it means you’ll see any warnings.

Once it has finished running it will tell you about any warnings. A warning doesn’t necessarily mean an infection!

After checking the warnings, see the log for more information. Read the log every time – that’s where most of the output is stored. Read the log with:

Now it’s up to you. You need to process that information. You may see output such as this:

That doesn’t mean I have 8 rootkits, it means I need to check the logs further to see what it’s calling a potential rootkit. In this case, one of the signs of a rootkit is a process that takes up a lot of RAM. Well, my browser is taking up a bunch of RAM and that’s one of the things it is warning me about.

When I say it’s up to you, it’s really up to you. You have to read the report and the logs to understand what is going on. DO NOT PANIC! The warnings can look scary – but they’re often just warnings. Read the logs thoroughly and understand what you’re reading before you do anything drastic!

Closure:

And there you have it! Another article in the books and this one about security. If you think you have a rootkit, feel free to leave a comment, but rkhunter tends to be a little trigger-happy with the warnings.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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How To: Enable The Root Account in Ubuntu

This will be a quick and easy article, where I explain how to enable the root account in Ubuntu. It’s easy to enable the root account, but you may not want to. The choice is up to you.

This article really starts here, with a pet peeve. See, Ubuntu doesn’t ship with root enabled by default and it does that for security reasons. If there’s no root account, the root account can’t be compromised. Instead, it relies on sudo for elevating permissions. If you ask at some sites, they’ll give you a lecture instead of telling you how to enable root.

Me? I disagree with that. If you want to know how to enable root, I’ll tell you how to enable root. It’ll likely come with a blurb that tells you why you may want to avoid doing so – but I’ll give you the answer to your question.

About the only time I won’t give you a direct answer is when it’s obvious that you’re asking me to do your homework. I may also not tell people how to do their job. After all, I don’t want incompetence entering the workforce and I don’t want incompetent people staying staying in the field.

I view Linux as not just an OS but also as a bit of a philosophy, a philosophy of constant learning, continued improvement, and a never-ending quest for greater understanding. If someone wants to know how to enable root, I’m damned well going to tell them how to enable root.

Yes, it may lessen their security, and I’ll make sure to tell them that as well. I’ll be sure to tell them why Ubuntu made the choice and what it means if they undo it. It’s their system. If they want to enable root, I will help them do that.

Enable Root in Ubuntu:

Having said all of that above, it’s actually really trivial to enable root in Ubuntu. The first thing you’re going to do is open the terminal. Like always, you can use your keyboard, just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal will open up.

Next, you’ll want to enter the following command:

Now, first it’ll ask for your current user’s password. Enter that. When you enter that, it’ll ask you to set a password for ‘root’. You’ll need to enter that password twice. Once you’re done with that, you’re done with it. That’s literally all it takes.

If you want to test this, you can login as root in TTY. Press CTRL + ALT + F3 and login as root, using the password you just assigned. To get back to your desktop, just press CTRL + ALT + F1 and it should bring you right back. If not, or if you’re not using Ubuntu, you can press and hold the left ALT button and then press the until you’re back at your desktop.

NOTE: This won’t enable GUI login as root. I’ll explain how to do that in a future article. This only enables the root account and nothing more.

If you do enable root, be aware that that means the root account can be compromised and used. Root has all the permissions. All of ’em… So, if the root account is compromised whoever has done so has complete control of the system. You should be aware of this before you make this change. Only make this change if you know what you’re doing and if you’re prepared for the consequences.

Closure:

And there you have it. You have another article in the books, this one explaining how to enable the root account. Think twice before doing so, but it’s your device and you get to make that decision. Just be aware of the consequences of doing so and you should be all set.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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How To: Change The Port SSH Uses

There are a number of things you can do to help secure SSH, and changing the port that SSH uses is one of those things that many people change. That can help, but I feel it’s important to also mention that security by obscurity isn’t really good security.

By the way, I’ve already written a couple of articles about SSH. Feel free to check ’em out, as they may get you up to speed if you’re not already there. The first link should be the link you click if you need to learn how to get started.

If you don’t know what ports are, there’s a great Wikipedia page here. We’re talking about software ports and not hardware ports. They’re well-described as this:

At the software level, within an operating system, a port is a logical construct that identifies a specific process or a type of network service.

By default, SSH uses port 22, and everybody knows it. Well, everybody that’s interested in networking knows this. And, because of this, malicious actors will scan for online computers and then check port 22 to see if SSH is running. If they find the port open, they’ll possibly try to guess the password and keep trying until they get through. 

NOTE: There are a number of ways to secure SSH, including disabling password logins entirely and using things like fail2ban to limit login attempts. I’d expect articles on those subjects in the future, but they have not yet been written by me. I’m sure other sites will have information, so use a search engine if you’re wanting to learn about those things today. (I am never gonna remember to come back and remove this.)

So, one step you can take is to make SSH listen on a different port. You can do that in isolation or along with other security methods. It’s not the greatest security fix, because people can (and do) just scan entire port ranges. While moving the port to something other than the default will help, it’s (by itself) just security by obscurity.

Knowing all that, let’s take a look at how we can change from the default port to one of your choosing. It’s actually pretty easy.

Change Your SSH Port:

To get started, we’re gonna need to open a terminal. You can do this with your keyboard, simply press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open up. By the way, you can change your default terminal.

Once that’s open, we’re going to want to edit a file using nano. You’ll do that with this command:

That will open ‘sshd_config’ (the SSH configuration file) with the nano text editor. Once that’s open, you’re going to scroll down while looking for “#Port 22”. It will look a little something like this:

changing the port SSH uses
For many of you, the next step will be obvious!

What you need to do is remove the # and then change the 22 to whatever port you want to use. So, if you wanted to change the port to 4441, you’d change the line to read:

Note the removal of the #, as the # tells the computer to ignore that line. A line starting with # (in this case) means that line is ‘commented out’, meant to be ignored.

Anyhow, once you’ve changed it to the new port you need to save it. Seeing as you’re using nano, that’s pretty easy. Just use your keyboard and press CTRL + X, then Y, and then ENTER.

Just because you’ve changed it doesn’t mean it has taken effect. You have to restart the service. To do that, you need this command:

That should restart the service, where it will now listen on the new port. From now on, you’ll connect with something like this:

Basically you’re just adding the ‘-p 4441’, except whatever port you picked, to the command. If you’re using aliases or something like Putty, be sure to change those settings as well.

NOTE: This isn’t the final step for many people. Some of you will have to change your firewall’s settings to allow TCP on the changed port. In some cases you may also have to enable it with semanage utility. In those cases, consult your documentation. If you can’t get it figured out, leave a comment and we’ll see if we can get it figured out together.

Closure:

And there you have it, another article in the books. This time, you’ve learned how to change the port that SSH uses. Hopefully that’ll come in handy for some of you. In isolation, it’s not the greatest security method – but it’s better than nothing. There’s still an article every other day!

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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