Advanced Browsing | Mechanics' Institute

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Advanced Browsing

This Advanced Browsing class covers privacy and security, offering tools to search more safely, and tips on devising strong passwords. The attached PDF document includes slides from the class.


Tips to Keep Your Accounts Safe with Strong Passwords

Adapted from



1. If it’s in the dictionary, it’s not a good password! Hackers can use software that automatically tries every word in a dictionary file. Instead, use a combination of numbers, symbols, and letters (varying caps and lower-case). Make passwords sufficiently long so that they will be difficult to crack. A minimum of six characters, preferably eight, should be a rule of thumb.


2. Never use personal information as passwords. Phishers can easily guess the names of friends, kids, pets, and other personal information — including birth dates and phone numbers.


3. Consider using a passphrase — three or more unrelated words strung together. This makes your password exponentially harder for hackers to crack.


4. If you use the same password across several accounts, they could all be compromised. For essential accounts like bank, medical, and email, use passwords you don’t use anywhere else. For less critical accounts, you can use a few passwords for different types of accounts, but…


5. Change your passwords periodically. Every month or two is usually often enough. Don’t reuse the same passwords over and over again.


6. Never tell someone your password over the phone. Companies never contact their customers and ask for passwords over the phone. Crackers pose as tech support personnel from an ISP and obtain passwords from unwitting customers.


7. Consider a password book. Keep a nondescript notebook with your most important passwords and hide it in plain sight.



Searching Privately at Home

The Privacy Badger extension (a.k.a. plugin) blocks trackers.

· Information & Installation:


The uBlock Origin extension (a.k.a. plugin) blocks ads.

· Background Information:

· For Firefox:

· For Chrome:


Searching Privately on Public Computers

Use these shortcuts when opening a browser to initiate a more private browsing session on public computers at libraries, community centers, and internet cafes.

· Firefox: ctrl + shift + p

· Chrome: ctrl + shift + n



The HTTPS Everywhere extension (a.k.a. plugin) adds a layer of security (SSL) to websites, encrypting communications with many websites.

· Information & Installation:


Managing Accounts

· Unsubscribe from unwanted emails:

· Find instructions on deleting accounts you no longer want to use: