A New Google Chrome Extension Can Make Sure Your Passwords Are Safe

iStock.com/ymgerman
iStock.com/ymgerman

Password hacks and other security breaches have become an unfortunate and frequent headline in recent years, with massive amounts of data being compromised. In 2018 alone, Facebook saw the personal details of 30 million of its users stolen. At this stage, it's becoming more unusual not to have at least one online account associated with a privacy disruption.

A new update for the Google Chrome browser may be able to keep you better informed of breaches and possible risks to your personal information. Dubbed Password Checkup, the extension matches your login credentials against a database of known compromised usernames and passwords. If your sign-in is no longer secure, you'll receive a warning to change your identification.

The obvious question is whether Password Checkup risks a security breach itself by regularly analyzing your username and password data. Google says that the information transmitted is encrypted and that the company neither recognizes nor retains any of your login data.

Password Checkup might be the most convenient way of keeping track of any compromised passwords, but it's not the only one. We previously told you about Pwned Passwords, a searchable database of vulnerable passwords, and advised on the use of password managers, which can use complex credentials that aren't as vulnerable to leaks.

Google relies on a pool of more than 4 billion compromised usernames and passwords for its security alerts. (The company, for the record, says it never pays for access to stolen credentials.) But it is by no means a definitive list. WIRED reporter Lily Hay Newman tested an account she knew had been exposed in a breach: Password Checkup didn't flag it.

While likely a valuable tool, Password Checkup and applications like it should be part of a multi-tiered approach to security that includes a strong—and unique—password for each site.

[h/t The Verge]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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An Illinois School District Has Banned Fully Remote Students From Wearing Pajamas While Learning

The great thing about Zoom is that it's almost impossible for people to tell if you're wearing pajamas.
The great thing about Zoom is that it's almost impossible for people to tell if you're wearing pajamas.
August de Richelieu, Pexels

Having most of your interactions via video chat can be a little exhausting, but it does come with a few perks—like being able to wear your pajama pants without anybody knowing or caring. For students facing remote learning in Illinois’s Springfield School District, however, PJs are against the rules.

WGRZ reports that the dress code for Springfield’s learn-from-home plan includes a ban on pajamas, which a number of parents aren’t too happy about.

“I don’t think they have any right to say what happens in my house,” parent Elizabeth Ballinger told WCIA. “I think they have enough to worry about as opposed to what the kids are wearing. They need to make sure they’re getting educated.”

Aaron Graves, president of the Springfield Education Association, doesn’t actually appear to disagree with Ballinger.

“In truth, the whole pajama thing is really at the bottom of our priority scale when it comes to public education,” Graves told WCIA. “We really want to see kids coming to the table of education, whether it’s at the kitchen table with the laptop there or whether it’s the actual brick and mortar schoolhouse. Raising the bar for all kids and helping them get there, whether they’re in their pajamas or tuxedo, is really what’s important.”

Though the pajama prohibition was part of the regular in-school dress code [PDF], imposing it from afar will definitely be more difficult. Fortunately, the administration’s enforcement policy is pretty vague; a statement shared with WCIA explained that “there are no definitive one-to-one consequences” for wearing your pajamas to online school, and teachers will decide what to do about any given violation.

In other words, it looks like kids with easygoing teachers (and parents) will get to stay in their nightshirts, while others might have to learn their multiplication tables in tuxedos.

[h/t WGRZ]