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[Source: This article was Published in pcmag.com By Max Eddy - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Logan Hochstetler]

Once Incognito Mode is engaged in Maps, 'you can search and navigate without linking this activity with your Google account,' says CEO Sundar Pichai

Google first introduced Incognito Mode years ago with the release of the Chrome browser. Now, as part of a larger push to enhance consumer privacy, the search giant is adding Incognito Mode to both Google Search and Google Maps.

When Incognito Mode is engaged in Chrome, your activities aren't stored in your browser history. It also disables cookies, which are used to identify and sometimes track individuals around the web, and turns off browser extensions. It doesn't hide your online activity, as a VPN would.

Google Maps

Google first introduced Incognito Mode years ago with the release of the Chrome browser. Now, as part of a larger push to enhance consumer privacy, the search giant is adding Incognito Mode to both Google Search and Google Maps.

When Incognito Mode is engaged in Chrome, your activities aren't stored in your browser history. It also disables cookies, which are used to identify and sometimes track individuals around the web, and turns off browser extensions. It doesn't hide your online activity, as a VPN would.

Incognito mode for Google Maps will be similar, Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained in a blog post. Once Incognito Mode is engaged in Maps, "you can search and navigate without linking this activity with your Google account," he wrote.

Google Maps Incognito Mode

You may have noticed that when you search in Google, meanwhile, your old searches sometimes pop up again. Google uses your activity to tailor the results for you, but not so with Incognito Mode for Search.

Incognito for Google Maps and Search are coming later this year. Google has already rolled out an Incognito Mode for YouTube. "We strongly believe that privacy and security is for everyone, not just a few," said Pichai.

While this is an important move for Google, it's not yet clear what information will be saved when these new Incognito modes are engaged, and what the limitations will be. We have to assume that, like Incognito for Chrome, you won't be totally invisible.

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was Published in ibvpn.com By IBVPN TEAM - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Alex Gray] 

Since when are you an Internet user? For quite a while, right?

How many times have you asked yourself which are the dangers that might hide at the other side of your connection and how a VPN software can help you? You’re about to read this article which means you’ve asked yourself this question at least once.

This article will give you all the information you need to know about the advantages of VPN plus a list of tips and tricks that will make your life easier.

Are you ready?

By the way, if you are aware of the benefits a VPN brings, it’s time to start using it!

Get ibVPN!

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

The VPN (Virtual Private Network) technology came as an answer to individuals’ request to protect their online activities and to maintain their online confidentiality.

Besides this functionality, the technology helps internet users access restricted content from anywhere in the world, with just a click of a mouse.

Therefore, we can say that a VPN is a secure solution that allows its users to send and receive data via the internet while maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of their data, based on its encryption level. The cherry on top is that a VPN will unblock the internet, by providing you the most-wanted Internet freedom that you deserve.

It’s obvious that because of people’s security need and especially because of the need for sending encrypted data over a network, the VPN technology has been developed. But besides the role of creating a “private scope of computer communications,” VPN technology has many other advantages:

  1. Enhanced security. When you connect to the network through a VPN, the data is kept secured and encrypted. In this way, the information is away from the hackers’ eyes.

  2. Remote control. In the case of a company, the great advantage of having a VPN is that the information can be accessed remotely even from home or from any other place. That’s why a VPN can increase productivity within a company.

  3. Share files. A VPN service can be used if you have a group that needs to share data for an extended period.

  4. Online anonymity. Through a VPN you can browse the web in complete anonymity. Compared to hide IP software or web proxies, the advantage of a VPN service is that it allows you to access both web applications and websites in complete anonymity.

  5. Unblock websites & bypass filters. VPNs are great for accessing blocked websites or for bypassing Internet filters. This is why there is an increased number of VPN services used in countries where Internet censorship is applied.

  6. Change IP address. If you need an IP address from another country, then a VPN can provide you this.

  7. Better performance. Bandwidth and efficiency of the network can generally be increased once a VPN solution is implemented.

  8. Reduce costs. Once a VPN network is created, the maintenance cost is very low. More than that, if you opt for a service provider, the network setup and surveillance is no more a concern.

Here is how your connection looks while using a VPN!

Advantages of VPN_your connection

Other things you need to know:

The advantages and benefits of a VPN are clear, let’s find out how to choose your VPN service and your new VPN service provider.

As a future VPN user, keep something in mind: the process of choosing and buying a VPN service should work the same as the process of doing a regular purchase.

Public networks are a real threat. The private networks are not very safe either because your internet service provider can throw an eye on anything you do. You can never be sure if you’re about to connect to a secured network unless you keep your internet activity safe.

So, no matter if you are looking for a VPN to encrypt your traffic while browsing the internet, to bypass geo-restrictions or you’re just the kind of person who likes to save some bucks while buying plane tickets, here’s what you future VPN should provide:

  • Free VPN Trial. Yes, maybe you’ve done some research on your own and saw those Five Best VPN articles all around the web. These articles are useful because are providing you information about VPN services at affordable prices, their performance, and features. When you can test these services by yourself, the experience is even better. That’s why is important to choose a VPN that provides you with a Free VPN Trial.

  • Speed. Do you have the patience to wait tons of seconds for your page to load while using a VPN? No, who has? Always look for the VPN that improves your internet connectivity, not slows it down!

  • Connectivity and reliability. Before buying a VPN service, you have to make sure that it assures you a safe/without drops connection.

  • The number of servers. The number of servers is an important thing for you to look into a VPN service. Before subscribing to a VPN provider, make sure it provides you a large number of servers around the globe.

  • Apps is compatible with various operating systems. I’m sure about one thing – you have more than one device you use to surf the web. There’s a significant probability for your devices do have different operating systems. An important thing that you should keep in mind is that your VPN provider should be able to meet your need by providing you with apps compatible with as many operating systems as possible.

  • The number of simultaneous connections. We are (almost) always online from more than one device, that’s why the number of concurrent connection is important.

  • Customer support. Not all of us are tech-savvy and, from time to time, even the experienced ones need help and guidance. Choosing a VPN provider with outstanding customer support is mandatory. Look for a VPN that allows you to contact the support via e-mail, support ticket systems and live chat. You will thank us later for this tip! ?

  • Privacy policy. One of the primary purposes of a VPN is to keep your online activities away from the curious eyes of any third party. If you don’t allow your ISP to spy on you, why would you let your VPN service provider do it? Choose a VPN service that has a transparent way of saying and doing things and make sure it won’t keep any connection logs. So, always check their Privacy Policy first, before subscribing!

  • Check their reviews page. We were mentioning above some things about the VPN reviews websites. Those websites are doing their reviews based on some tests. Wouldn’t be awesome to be able to find out what the actual customers of a VPN provider have to say about the service and its performance? Here’s a tip: if your future VPN service provider has its own reviews page, throw an eye on it.

Are you ready for some action?

Now that you know which are the advantages of a VPN, their value, and how you should choose one, it’s time for some action.

If you’re curious to test on your own the benefits of a VPN, you can do it for free, right now.
ibVPN is the perfect choice for those who care about their online privacy and freedom.

What do you have to do? It’s easy:

  1. Create a trial account – no credit card required

  2. Download a suitable app for your device(s)

  3. Enjoy a secure and open internet by connecting to one of the 180+ servers we are providing.

If you’re happy with the performance of our service, you can always subscribe to one of our premium plans.

Go Premium!

Keep in mind that a VPN has its limitations too!

Just like any other thing in this world, a VPN service has its advantages and disadvantages.

So, if you’re not an experienced technician or if you’re trying a security solution aka a VPN for the very first time, make sure you won’t dig that deep into the VPN’s settings. Before doing advanced settings into your app, please make sure you know what you’re doing otherwise, you might risk having leaks or your activity exposed.

Another thing that you should know if that, from time to time, a VPN can have connection drops. These drops are perfectly normal, that’s why you should make sure you’re connecting to a server that’s not overloaded.

Tips and tricks.

We want to make sure you make the most out of your VPN service, that’s why we have a list of tips and tricks which will help you a lot.

We have over 15 years of experience in providing our customers with security solutions so, listen to the old ones this time. ?

  1. KillSwitch. To assure the safety of your network connection, a VPN offers (or it should provide) features that enhance your level of security. One of these features is the KillSwitch. If you have never heard about it before, this feature assures your safety in case of connection drops. There are two kinds of KillSwitches: The Internet KillSwitch which will block your internet traffic in case of VPN drops and the Application Killswitch which ensures you that a list of selected apps will be closed, in case your VPN connection drops. So, for a secure connection, always use the KillSwitch!

  2. Use P2P servers. Some of you might use a VPN service to download torrents safely. To avoid any problems with your ISP, use only the P2P server for such activities!

  3. Use Double VPN. If you’re lucky enough to have Double VPN servers in your list, make sure you use them. Double VPN technology allows you to browse anonymously by connecting to a chain of VPN servers. In simple words: VPN on top of VPN (or VPN tunnel inside another VPN tunnel). Double VPN is all about VPN tunnels and levels of security and encryption. Isn’t it awesome?

  4. Use Stealth VPN or SSTP protocols. If you’re living in a country with a high censorship level and your connection gets blocked even if you use a VPN, make sure you change the protocol and try to use Stealth VPN or SSTP. These two VPN protocols are high-speed and secure and, for example, Stealth VPNwill mask your VPN traffic and will make it look like regular web traffic. In this way, you can bypass any restriction or firewall.

  5. Use VPN + Tor. Since Tor is used to mask very sensitive information, the frequent use of this browser might light the bulb of your ISP and mark you for surveillance. That’s why the safe way is to connect to a VPN server while using the Tor browser.

  6. Leak protection. Check your VPN app’s settings and, if it allows you, make sure you check all the options that keep you away from any leak (DNS leaks, IPv6 leak protection, etc.).

  7. Use the VPN on your mobile devices too. It’s not enough to keep it safe only when you use a laptop. Public wifis are real threats that’s why you should always be connected to a VPN.

  8. Test the server network before connecting. Why are we saying this? Well, this practice assures you that you will connect to the fastest server for you. And who doesn’t love a fast server?

  9. Use browser extensions. A browser extension is a super useful tool. There are cases when you need to change your IP fast and easy and to open your app, entering your details and choosing the desired server is somehow complicated, and it takes time. If your VPN provider provides you not only VPN clients compatible with different operating systems but browser extensions too, make sure you use them…

  10. Smart DNS. This neat and useful technology allows you to access blocked streaming channels, regardless of your region. If your VPN provider has such an option, make sure you use it to watch your favorite media content while you’re far away from home.

  11. Save money by using a VPN. Who doesn’t like traveling? Here’s a piece of advice: search online for a flight, compare the prices and then go back to the page you have initially accessed. There are 80% chances that the rates have been increased. If you’re wondering how this is even possible, let us explain. Some online ticket agencies have preferential prices for different countries. Save some extra bucks using a VPN!

Are you still here?

As you can see, the discussion about VPN technology and its advantages is so complicated. We could talk about it for days.

What you should keep in mind after reading this article is that no matter if you’re looking for the best option to browse anonymously, to unblock your favorite online content, to download torrents or to watch for the cheapest plane tickets, a VPN can always help you.

Besides its disadvantages, a VPN has tons of advantages, and it allows you to keep your personal information safe in the first place.

There are lots of fishes in the sea, make sure you choose the one that meets your needs.

Always browse safely!

Categorized in Internet Privacy

[Source: This article was Published in money.cnn.com By David Goldman - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Patrick Moore]

Some things just shouldn't be connected to the Internet. With Shodan, a search engine that finds connected devices, it's easy to locate dangerous things that anyone can access without so much as a username or password.

Traffic light controls

hack red light
This is why Caps Lock was invented.

When something that literally anyone in the world can access says "DEATH MAY OCCUR !!!" it's generally a good idea to build some kind of security around it.

Oops - no. For some reason, someone thought it would be a good idea to put traffic light controls on the Internet. Making matters way, way worse is that these controls require no login credentials whatsoever. Just type in the address, and you've got access.

You'd have to know where to go looking, but it's not rocket science. Security penetration tester Dan Tentler found the traffic light controls using Shodan, a search engine that navigates the Internet's back channels looking for the servers, webcams, printers, routers and all the other stuff that is connected to the Internet.

Traffic cameras

hack traffic camera
Hey, that's my car!

You know those cameras that snap photos of you speeding through a red light? Yeah, someone put an entire network of them on the Internet.

Made by a company called PIPS, a division of 3M (MMM), the "Autoplate" technology takes photos of cars going through intersections and loads their license plate numbers on a server. Those servers are intended to be accessed by police departments. They're definitely not supposed to be connected to the greater Internet without any log-in credentials.

That's what happened, though, and any Web lurker could check out who was zipping through the photo zones in the spot Tentler found. Added kicker: Autoplate actually records photos and registration information for every car that goes through the intersections it's watching -- not just speeders.

3M spokeswoman Jacqueline Berry noted that Autoplate's systems feature robust security protocols, including password protection and encryption. They just have to be used.

"We're very confident in the security of our systems," she said.

Tentler notified the FBI about the particular system he found.

A swimming pool acid pump

hack pool
Are you sure you want to get in the pool?

Swimming pools have acid pumps to adjust the pH balance of the water. They're usually not connected to the Internet.

At least one of them is, though. So, exactly how powerful and toxic is this acid pump?

"Can we turn people into soup?" wondered Tentler.

Tentler said there was no distinguishing text in this app to tip him off to where the pool was located or whom it is owned by, so the owners haven't been contacted. Enter at your own risk!

A hydroelectric plant

hack turbine
Wait, does that say kilowatts? 

French electric companies apparently like to put their hydroelectric plants online. Tentler found three of them using Shodan.

This one has a big fat button that lets you shut off a turbine. But what's 58,700 Watts between friends, right?

It's not just France that has a problem. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security commissioned researchers last year to see if they could find industrial control systems for nuclear power plants using Shodan. They found several.

Tentler told DHS about all the power plants he found -- actually, DHS called him after he accessed one of their control systems.

Once the controls were brought up on a Web browser, anyone could put lights into "test" mode. Seriously, do not try that at home.

Tentler declined to say which city put its traffic controls on the Internet, but he notified the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about it.

A hotel wine cooler

hack wine cooler
How cold do you like your champagne, exactly?

Okay, fine, there's no danger in putting a hotel wine cooler online. It's pretty strange, though.

Tentler also found controls for a display case at a seafood store, which included a lobster tank.

This wine cooler is still online at a large hotel in New York. So if your bubbly is a little toasty, you'll know why.

A hospital heart rate monitor

hack heart rate monitor
Beep ... beep ... beep ...

U.S. hospitals have to abide by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Here's a violation: One hospital put its heart rate monitors online for the whole world to see.

Although this was a read-only tool -- you couldn't defibrillate a patient over the Internet -- it's still a major, major breach of the privacy law.

Tentler said that another security researcher reported this hospital to DHS' Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team last year.

A home security app

hack home control
Honey, did you leave the garage door open?

new wave of home automation tools offer a great way to control everything from your door locks to your alarm system online. But it's a good idea for your security system to have some, you know, security built into it.

Not this system. Anyone can change this home's temperature, alarm settings, and, yes, open its garage door.

Tentler said he has no idea who built this app, because there was no distinguishing text or information associated with it.

A gondola ride

hack gondola ride
Hey, why are the doors opening?

A gondola ride over a ski resort is a fun way to enjoy the mountain view. But not if you stop in the middle of the ride and the doors open.

Anyone could do that with a click of a button, even if they were sitting thousands of miles away. That's because this French ski resort put the control systems for the gondola ride on the Internet.

Attempts to contact the company was unsuccessful.

A car wash

hack car wash
Actually, I would like that undercoating!

Seriously, there is a car wash on the Internet.

By clicking through the control options, anyone in the world can adjust the chemicals used in the wash and lock someone inside. Or you could be nice and give every customer the works.

Tentler said he has no idea who owns the car wash or where it is. But if you happen to pass through this one, your next wash is on him.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

[This article is originally published in hothardware.com written by Rod Scher - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Jasper Solander] 

We have all heard of the dark web: a lawless digital world, uncharted and unstructured, full of data -- much of it illegally acquired and illegally for sale -- that cannot be viewed without special tools: proxy servers, TOR browsers, and the like. It's a murky and mysterious place, a place where much information resides but is difficult to unearth for the uninitiated.

Until now. Canada's Echosec Systems Ltd. recently released Beacon, a security tool that's designed to shed some light on the dark web.

Karl1 Karl Swannie is the CEO of Echosec, the company behind Beacon.

"Beacon is a dark web search engine that allows users to search anonymously, without the need for a TOR browser," says Echosec CTO Michael Raypold. "We’ve designed Beacon to be simple to interact with, while incorporating powerful advanced search tools, making searching unindexed data in the dark web as easy as using a surface web search engine."

The idea behind Beacon is that it can be used by a company to potentially head off -- or at the very least mitigate -- a potential disaster. Since the bulk of the data on the dark web is essentially unstructured, the Echosec team crawled the dark web, indexed its content and then build a natural language query interface that allows non-hackers to access that information quickly and easily. Simply put, Beacon is like Google for the dark web.

beacongrabWith Beacon, dark web data can be searched by a variety of criteria. Specific types of data (credit cards, emails, etc.) can be searched for explicitly.

Keep in mind, of course, that not everything on the dark web is illegal.

Says Raypold, "The dark web is a place where you can source illegal or illicit materials because the inherent privacy and anonymity baked into platforms like the TOR network makes buying and selling these goods easier to achieve without repercussions. However, that isn’t to say everything on the dark web is illegal. News organization like the NYTimes and Pro Publica maintain Onion sites for their more privacy-conscious users and to help disseminate news that might otherwise be censored." Still, much of the dark web's content was acquired illegally and can be misused to spread misinformation, victimize vulnerable populations, execute social engineering exploits, or engage in various forms of identity theft.

We all know that information in the wrong hands can be dangerous. Raypold cites the story of Coca-Cola's attempt, some years back, to acquire a Chinese soft drink company. Unbeknownst to high-level Coca-Cola executives, the company's secret plans and negotiation tactics were in fact not secret at all, because Coca-Cola had been previously hacked, thanks to a phishing email opened by a Coca-Cola exec.

Beacon did not exist at that time (2009), but it's likely that some of the information retrieved from the hack and many pilfered emails would have ended up on the dark web; if so, Beacon could have unearthed them, letting the company know of its vulnerability long before 2009 and perhaps allowing Coca-Cola to mitigate the damage. (In the end, the acquisition fell through, most likely because Coca-Cola -- having lost control of its confidential information -- had also lost any leverage it might have had in the negotiations.)

The goal of Beacon, says Raypold, is to allow companies to easily examine data on the dark web as a way of locating the potentially harmful information that’s stored there: this could include stolen corporate emails, company documents, personal info, or other such data that could be detrimental to a company, its brand, or its customers. After all, if your data has been compromised, it's always better to know than not to know.
MikeMike Raypold is the CTO of Echosec, LTD.

"Beacon allows teams to more quickly identify and respond to information that can materially damage a company’s brand and consumer trust," says Raypold. "Being able to quickly identify a sensitive problem also means that you can start putting a solution in place and notify your customers before they find out through other means."



Of course, a security tool is but another weapon in the wrong hands, and weapons can be misused; it's one thing for a pen-tester or white-hat hacker to be in possession of systems that can locate or uncover data, but what about someone finding a way to misuse Beacon? While Raypold notes that it is possible to misuse Beacon, since the tool makes it easier for users to locate data they might otherwise have difficulty finding, he says that the company has taken steps to mitigate that danger.

"First, every Echosec customer must go through a use-case approval process to determine how the customer is using the application and to make sure they are in compliance with the vendors from whom the data Is sourced," says Raypold. "If a potential customer cannot pass the use-case approval process, they do not get access to the system."

Beacon Black

Second, the company has built automated tools and manual processes into its platform and into the company workflows to notify the Echosec team if users attempt to run searches that are in violation of their approved use case.

"The checks built into the platform will outright prevent some searches from being run so that users never receive data that we perceive could be used with malicious intent. Furthermore, some of the vendors from whom we source data have asked us to prevent certain queries from being run, regardless of a customer's use case," says Raypold. (Naturally, the company publishes an "acceptable use" policy, which can be found here.)

Echosec expects to sell Beacon mainly to corporate customers interested in keeping tabs on their intellectual property, corporate secrets, and other sensitive data. White-hat hackers -- such as pen-testers -- could conceivably be a market as well, but the company feels that would be fairly uncommon. And if it did occur, it would simply be viewed as an example of contracted security experts acting on behalf of the ultimate corporate customer.

However, (and by whomever) Beacon is used, it looks as if the murky landscape of the dark web is no longer quite as dark as it once was.

Categorized in Deep Web

 Source: This article was Publishedfastcompany.com By Steven Melendez - Contributed by Member: Martin Grossner

VirusTotal, which is a product of Chronicle, a company created within Alphabet’s fabled “moonshot factory,” has been described as “Google for malware.”

Earlier this year, Google parent Alphabet unveiled a new, top-level company called Chronicle that would be dedicated to cybersecurity.

Initially created within X, Alphabet’s so-called “moonshot factory” unit, Chronicle has said that it’s developing a security analytics platform for corporate customers, harnessing the company’s strengths in search, artificial intelligence, raw computing, and data storage power. But Chronicle also includes an often-overlooked security product called VirusTotal, sometimes described as “Google for malware.”

Acquired by Google in 2012, the Malaga, Spain, based company was first created by cybersecurity developer Bernardo Quintero in 2004, who’s worked on antivirus technology since he was a teenager. Quintero’s earlier projects included a Spanish-language cybersecurity newsletter and a tool designed to defeat dial-up-era malware that ran up charges calling premium toll hotlines. VirusTotal enables anyone to upload a file they suspect may contain malware to have it scanned by dozens of antivirus tools from vendors like Symantec, TrendMicro, Kaspersky, and Avast.

“When I started [VirusTotal] there were eight or nine antivirus companies working in the first version of the service,” says Quintero.

Now, there are more than 70, and the tool can extract other metadata from files as well, whether it’s a photo or an executable program, studying the uploaded content in secure virtual cloud machines. Security experts can also use the platform to share information about potential new malware files.

“They can have fast access to the malware samples to improve their product,” Quintero says.

VirusTotal played a role in the analysis of the infamous Stuxnet worm, when it collected some of the first samples, and it’s been cited in commercial and academic security research, including recent work on cryptocurrency-stealing malware.

Since Alphabet’s acquisition, VirusTotal has been largely independently managed, but it’s been able to take advantage of the larger company’s cloud computing and search capabilities—some of the same strengths that Alphabet intends to leverage for its larger Chronicle efforts.

“We’ve increased search capabilities,” says Chronicle CEO Stephen Gillett. “We’ve invested a large amount of infrastructure to make scanning faster and better.”

More fundamentally, Alphabet has also helped VirusTotal, which prior to Chronicle’s debut was administratively part of the company’s internal cybersecurity unit, combat denial of service attacks that had threatened it as an independent platform.

“For us, it was a way to perfect our mission,” says Quintero.

VirusTotal Graph [Image: courtesy of VirusTotal]
VirusTotal has also added a data visualization component, called VirusTotal Graph, that can help suss out the relationships between malware files and the URLs and IP addresses that distribute them. And this year, it unveiled a feature called VirusTotal Monitor, which lets legitimate software makers upload their applications and information about them so participating antivirus companies can avoid mistakenly flagging them as malware. The innocuous software samples are stored in a secure, private cloud, and antivirus vendors are only given access to the data if their software begins to mistakenly flag the files as viruses.

Another feature, called VirusTotal Intelligence, lets security researchers sift through the set of uploaded files to find ones matching certain criteria. A bank, for example, could spot malware trying to interact with its websites.

Gillett declined to comment too extensively on plans for Chronicle’s next project, though he emphasized it would also take advantage of Alphabet’s strengths to help customers sift through vast quantities of security data.

“We should be able to help teams search and retrieve useful information and run analysis in minutes, rather than the hours or days it currently takes,” he wrote in a January blog post. “Storage—in far greater amounts and for far lower cost than organizations currently can get it—should help them see patterns that emerge from multiple data sources and over years.”

Chronicle isn’t Alphabet’s only high-profile security project—the company’s Jigsaw unit focuses on tools to make the world safer, including combating misinformation and radicalization, and Google’s Project Zero team has focused on spotting bugs in software before they can do harm. More recently, Alphabet has announced plans to help safeguard elections, including by helping keep Google accounts safe from unauthorized access.

Contributing to cybersecurity in a world where it’s often lacking is an important mission for the company, Gillett says.

“For Alphabet, and for me personally as the founder and CEO of Chronicle, I believe there’s no better moonshot for Alphabet to be going after,” he says.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Source: This article was Published forbes.com By Lee Mathews - Contributed by Member: James Gill

The Internet is a very leaky place. Security researchers find new servers spilling private data with alarming regularity. Some incidents have involved well-known, reputable companies. This one does not. It involves a server that helped cyber criminals run a massive SPAM campaign.

While investigating massive spam-producing malware network, security researchers at Vertek Corporation made an unexpected discovery. One of the servers linked to the malware hadn't been properly secured. Anyone who had the IP address of the server could connect at will and download a massive cache of email addresses.

Vertek tallied more than 44 million addresses in total. Of those, more than 43,500,000 were unique. The data was broken down into just over 2,200 files with each one containing more than 20,000 entries.

Bleeping Computer was provided with a list that broke down which email services were the most popular with the spammers. Yahoo addresses were the most common, at nearly 9 million. AOL was a close second at just over 8 million. Comcast addresses were the third most common at around 780,000.

The numbers fall sharply after that, with none breaking half a million. Many of the addresses that appear are provided by ISPs like AT&T, Charter, Cox, and SBC. Curiously enough, very few Gmail accounts were listed. Bleeping Computer thinks that may be because the database Vertek was able to access only contained part of the spam server's address book. It's also possible that these particular domains were chosen to target a specific type of user.

Vertek's researchers have shared their findings with Troy Hunt, who is analyzing the list against the already massive database he maintains at the breach notification service HaveIBeenPwned.

It wouldn't be at all surprising if Hunt discovers that all 43 million addresses were already exposed by other leaks or hacks. Why? Because at least two other leaks from spam-linked servers contained way, way more.

In August of last year, Hunt processed a whopping 711 million addresses from a compromised server. Many of those, he determined, had been dumped before. The biggest leak involving a SPAM service involved twice as many emails. MacKeeper's Chris Vickery discovered a mind-blowing 1.4 billion addresses exposed by a shady server.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

 Source: This article was Published wired.com By IE LAPOWSKY - Contributed by Member: Bridget Miller

IN LATE JULY, a group of high-ranking Facebook executives organized an emergency conference call with reporters across the country. That morning, Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, explained, they had shut down 32 fake pages and accounts that appeared to be coordinating disinformation campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. They couldn’t pinpoint who was behind the activity just yet, but said the accounts and pages had loose ties to Russia’s Internet Research Agency, which had spread divisive propaganda like a flesh-eating virus throughout the 2016 US election cycle.

Facebook was only two weeks into its investigation of this new network, and the executives said they expected to have more answers in the days to come. Specifically, they said some of those answers would come from the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensics Research Lab. The group, whose mission is to spot, dissect, and explain the origins of online disinformation, was one of Facebook’s newest partners in the fight against digital assaults on elections around the world. “When they do that analysis, people will be able to understand better what’s at play here,” Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said.

Back in Washington DC, meanwhile, DFRLab was still scrambling to understand just what was going on themselves. Facebook had alerted them to the eight suspicious pages the day before the press call. The lab had no access to the accounts connected to those pages, nor to any information on Facebook’s backend that would have revealed strange patterns of behavior. They could only see the parts of the pages that would have been visible to any other Facebook user before the pages were shut down—and they had less than 24 hours to do it.

“We screenshotted as much as possible,” says Graham Brookie, the group’s 28-year-old director. “But as soon as those accounts are taken down, we don’t have access to them... We had a good head start, but not a full understanding.” DFRLab is preparing to release a longer report on its findings this week.

As a company, Facebook has rarely been one to throw open its doors to outsiders. That started to change after the 2016 election, when it became clear that Facebook and other tech giants missed an active, and arguably incredibly successful, foreign influence campaign going on right under their noses. Faced with a backlash from lawmakers, the media, and their users, the company publicly committed to being more transparent and to work with outside researchers, including at the Atlantic Council.

'[Facebook] is trying to figure out what the rules of the road are, frankly, as are research organizations like ours.'

GRAHAM BROOKIE, DIGITAL FORENSICS RESEARCH LAB

DFRLab is a scrappier, substantially smaller offshoot of the 57-year-old bipartisan think tank based in DC, and its team of 14 is spread around the globe. Using open source tools like Google Earth and public social media data, they analyze suspicious political activity on Facebook, offer guidance to the company, and publish their findings in regular reports on Medium. Sometimes, as with the recent batch of fake accounts and pages, Facebook feeds tips to the DFRLab for further digging. It's an evolving, somewhat delicate relationship between a corporate behemoth that wants to appear transparent without ceding too much control or violating users' privacy, and a young research group that’s ravenous for Intel and eager to establish its reputation.

“This kind of new world of information sharing is just that, it’s new,” Brookie says. “[Facebook] is trying to figure out what the rules of the road are, frankly, as are research organizations like ours.”

The lab got its start almost by accident. In 2014, Brookie was working for the National Security Council under President Obama when the military conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine. At the time, he says, the US intelligence community knew that Russian troops had invaded the region, but given the classified nature of their intel they had no way to prove it to the public. That allowed the Russian government to continue denying their involvement.

What the Russians didn’t know was that proof of their military surge was sitting right out in the open online. A working group within the Atlantic Council was among the groups busy sifting through the selfies and videos that Russian soldiers were uploading to sites like Instagram and YouTube. By comparing the geolocation data on those posts to Google Earth street view images that could reveal precisely where the photos were taken, the researchers were able to track the soldiers as they made their way through Ukraine.

“It was old-school Facebook stalking, but for classified national security interests,” says Brookie.

This experiment formed the basis of DFRLab, which has continued using open source tools to investigate national security issues ever since. After the initial report on eastern Ukraine, for instance, DFRLab followed up with a piece that used satellite images to prove that the Russian government had misled the world about its air strikes on Syria; instead of hitting ISIS territory and oil reserves, as it claimed, it had in fact targeted civilian populations, hospitals, and schools.

But Brookie, who joined DFRLab in 2017, says the 2016 election radically changed the way the team worked. Unlike Syria or Ukraine, where researchers needed to extract the truth in a low-information environment, the election was plagued by another scourge: information overload. Suddenly, there was a flood of myths to be debunked. DFRLab shifted from writing lengthy policy papers to quick hits on Medium. To expand its reach even further, the group also launched a series of live events to train other academics, journalists, and government officials in their research tactics, creating even more so-called “digital Sherlocks.”

'Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can see something we may have missed.'

KATIE HARBATH, FACEBOOK

This work caught Facebook’s attention in 2017. After it became clear that bad actors, including Russian trolls, had used Facebook to prey on users' political views during the 2016 race, Facebook pledged to better safeguard election integrity around the world. The company has since begun staffing up its security team, developing artificial intelligence to spot fake accounts and coordinated activity, and enacting measures to verify the identities of political advertisers and administrators for large pages on Facebook.

According to Katie Harbath, Facebook’s director of politics, DFRLab's skill at tracking disinformation not just on Facebook but across platforms felt like a valuable addition to this effort. The fact that the Atlantic Council’s board is stacked with foreign policy experts including former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to President George W. Bush, was an added bonus.

“They bring that unique, global view set of both established foreign policy people, who have had a lot of experience, combined with innovation and looking at problems in new ways, using open source material,” Harbath says.

That combination has helped the Atlantic Council attract as much as $24 million a year in contributions, including from government and corporate sponsors. As the think tank's profile has grown, however, it has also been accused of peddling influence for major corporate donors like FedEx. Now, after committing roughly $1 million in funding to the Atlantic Council, the bulk of which supports the DFRLab’s work, Facebook is among the organization's biggest sponsors.

But for Facebook, giving money away is the easy part. The challenge now is figuring out how best to leverage this new partnership. Facebook is a $500 billion tech juggernaut with 30,000 employees in offices around the world; it's hard to imagine what a 14-person team at a non-profit could tell them that they don't already know. But Facebook's security team and DFRLab staff swap tips daily through a shared Slack channel, and Harbath says that Brookie’s team has already made some valuable discoveries.

During the recent elections in Mexico, for example, DFRLab dissected the behavior of a political consulting group called Victory Lab that was spamming the election with fake news, driven by Twitter bots and Facebook likes that appeared to have been purchased in bulk. The team found that a substantial number of those phony likes came from the same set of Brazilian Facebook users. What's more, they all listed the same company, Frases & Versos, as their employer.

The team dug deeper, looking into the managers of Frases & Versos, and found that they were connected with an entity called PCSD, which maintained a number of pages where Facebook users could buy and sell likes, shares, and even entire pages. With the Brazilian elections on the horizon in October, Brookie says, it was critical to get the information in front of Facebook immediately.

"We flagged it for Facebook, like, 'Holy cow this is interesting,'" Brookie remembers. The Facebook team took on the investigation from there. On Wednesday, the DFRLab published its report on the topic, and Facebook confirmed to WIRED that it had removed a network of 72 groups, 46 accounts, and five pages associated with PCSD.

"We’re in this all day, every day, looking at these things," Harbath says. "Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can see something we may have missed."

Of course, Facebook has missed a lot in the past few years, and the partnership with the DFRLab is no guarantee it won't miss more. Even as it stumbles toward transparency, the company remains highly selective about which sets of eyes get to search for what they've missed, and what they get to see. After all, Brookie's team can only examine clues that are already publicly accessible. Whatever signals Facebook is studying behind the scenes remain a mystery.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

 Source: This article was Published appuals.com By Bill Wilson - Contributed by Member: Edna Thomas

Safe Search is a built-in security feature that filets out inappropriate web content. Although it used to be quite easy to disable or enable Safe search for Internet Explorer, the default behavior has changed with the launch of Windows 10.

Even though the Edge browser includes a setting that allows users to disable Safe Search, for some users Safe Search refuses to be disabled due to a glitch, child account type or browser setting. Here’s the error message that most affected users see after being unable to disable SafeSearch:

“We’ve set SafeSearch to strict because your browser communicated your preference for a safe web browsing experience”

Some users have been reaching us with questions after being unable to disable Safe Search for Microsoft Edge and/or Internet Explorer. Whenever this issue occurs, the user is unable to disable Safe for multiple search engines including Bing, Google or Yahoo. The restriction also applies to Youtube and a few other content websites.

As per most user reports, this particular issue is either caused by an internal Edge bug or by the fact that the current account is enabled as a child account with limited privileges.

If you’re currently struggling to turn off Safe Search for Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer, this article will give you some basic troubleshooting guides. Please follow the methods below in order until you stumble upon a fix that resolves the Safe Search won’t rurn off issue.

Method 1: Turning Safe Search Off from inside the Search Engine’s Settings

Before we dig into other troubleshooting guides, let’s see if you’re trying to turn off Bing’s SafeSearch setting from the right menu. Since disabling or enabling SafeSearch is no longer done through your browser settings, you’ll need to navigate to the home page of your search engine.

Please follow the guide specific to your preferred search engine to turn Safe Search Off.

Here’s a quick guide on turning Bing SafeSearch on or off for the Bing search engine:

  1. Open Internet Explorer or Edge Browser and navigate Bing.com.
  2. Make sure you are signed in with your user account, then click on the action button (top-right corner) and click on Settings.
  3. In the Settings menu of Bing, go to the Search section and set SafeSearch to Off.
  4. Hit Save button at the bottom of the menu and see if Safe Search is now disabled when using Bing.

Here’s a quick guide on how to disable Safe Search for Google search engine:

  1. Open Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer and access the Google Search Engine.
  2. Make sure you are logged in with your Google account and search for something.
  3. Above the search results, click on Settings and then choose to Turn off SafeSearch.
    In the event that this method wasn’t effective in disabling Safe Search, move down to the next method below.

Method 2: Apply all pending Windows updates

If the first method wasn’t effective, let’s eliminate the possibility of an internal bug. The inability to turn off Safe search is a known Windows 10 bug that Microsoft has already addressed with a couple of hotfixes.

If you’re unable to turn Safe Search off due to Windows 10 glitch, applying all the pending Windows updates will automatically resolve the issue. Here’s a quick guide on applying all the pending Windows updates:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run box. Next, type “ms-settings:windowsupdate” and hit Enter to open the Windows Update tab from the Settings menu.
  2. In the Windows Update screen, click the Check for updates button and wait until the analysis is complete.
  3. Once Windows figures out which updates need to be applied and their order, start following the on-screen prompts to apply them to your system. Keep in mind that depending on how many pending updates you have, your PC might restart several times.
  4. After every startup, return to the Windows Update screen and install every pending update until there is none left.
  5. Once all updates are installed, perform a final restart. At the next startup, see whether you are able to disable Safe Search. If the feature is still refusing to be turned off, continue down with the next method below.

Method 3: Disabling Safe Search via the InPrivate mode

Some users have managed to disable Safe Search by using the InPrivate mode. In the instance that the Safe Search setting is locked to Strict or Moderate, you can try to modify the setting from an InPrivate mode in the Edge browser.

Here’s a quick guide on disabling Safe Search from an InPrivate window of Microsoft Edge:

  1. Open Microsoft Edge and press Ctrl + Shift + P to open a new InPrivate window.
  2. In the newly opened InPrivate window, navigate to the search engine of your choice, and follow Method 1again to disable Safe Search (while in an InPrivate window).

If disabling Safe Search from an InPrivate window wasn’t effective, move down to the final method.

Method 4: Creating a new Windows user account

Some users have finally managed to resolve the issue and disable Safe Search after creating a new Windows user account. As it turns out, Windows 10 is capable of overriding the Safe Search settings of your search engines if the active account is enabled as a child of another one.

In this case, the solution would be to create a new user account and grant it administrative privileges. Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a new Run box. Then, type “netplwiz” and hit Enter to open up the User Accounts window.
  2. In the User Accounts window, expand the Users tab and click the Add button.
  3. In the next window, click on Sign in without a Microsoft account to proceed.
  4. Then, click on Local Account and hit the Next button.
  5. Insert your account name and password and hit the Next button again to complete the process.
  6. Sign-in with your newly created user account either by logging out or by restarting your PC and see if the Safe Search won’t Turn Off issue has been resolved.

Categorized in Search Engine

 Source: This article was published icij.org By Spencer Woodman - Contributed by Member: Dorothy Allen

Reporters are navigating a more treacherous environment than at any time in recent memory, and despite a plethora of digital tools to keep them safe – many are failing to adopt new strategies.

It’s a bleak reality: Last year alone, a record number of journalists were killed in Mexico, reporters were imprisoned in Myanmar and journalists in Turkeyfaced criminal charges en masse.

The press’s enemies have been boosted by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has lodged almost daily attacks against journalists, and many have followed his lead. Wealthy private interests have launched their own crusades: a private firm was hired to undermine New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer’s reporting on Koch Industries, and Harvey Weinstein offered big bucks to a military-grade surveillance firm to spy on reporters and their sources breaking the story of his sexual harassment.

“The World Press Freedom map is getting darker,” according to the 2017 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, “and media freedom is under threat now more than ever.”

[Journalists] frequently disregard their sense of insecurity even when they feel unsafe in public or cyberspace.
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

These threats are compounded by increasingly potent hacking tools falling into the hands of governments around the world and, in some cases, hackers serving government interests. This makes personal cybersecurity an essential first line of defense for reporters everywhere.

Yet many journalists are failing to utilize some of the most basic tools to keep them and their sources safe from digital attack. A recent study by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression found that some of the most at-risk journalists “frequently disregard their sense of insecurity even when they feel unsafe in public or cyberspace.”

So what can journalists (and citizens) do to better protect themselves online? Here are five security tools that have emerged as among the most commonly recommended for reporters and news organizations as well as their sources.

1. Signal and other end-to-end encrypted apps

Phone calls and digital messaging often comprise the bulk of a journalist’s workday. But conventional lines of communication can leave the contents of conversations vulnerable to hacking. And, even if someone is not able to intercept to the contents of these chats, a hacker can still access extensive archives of related metadata, including who you talked to and when.

But there are an increasing number of options to help you communicate securely with a high degree of confidence.

As we settle into 2018, the app Signal — possibly you’ve already heard of it – is a clear favorite for secure voice calls and messaging between journalists, their editors, and sometimes their civil servant sources.

You can easily use the Signal app on your phone.

“Everyone is really enthusiastic about Signal,” said Harlo Holmes, director of newsroom digital security with the Freedom of the Press Foundation. “Right now it’s the state of the art in terms of encrypted communication.”

To the user, Signal looks and operates like a traditional chat app, and also allows you to avoid expensive international call and text fees. But Signal also offers what’s called end-to-end encryption, meaning communications can only be deciphered on the physical devices of the communicating users. Even if a government tried to compel the group of developers that administers Signal to turn over your communications, it couldn’t provide information: Signal simply has no ability to figure out exactly what you’re doing on its platform.

An increasing number of digital platforms are using end-to-end encryption, but some popular products differ from Signal in one key way: While some of these firms may not be able to access the content of your communications, they can often access valuable metadata that may reveal who you were communicating with and when. These apps also may allow users to inadvertently send messages without end-to-end encryption.

To learn more about Signal, Holmes recommends checking out the foundation’s page on Security Planner, a project of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab.

2. Secure file storage and encrypted sharing

A large portion of our lives is often stored on our laptops and the messaging platforms, social media sites and work portals they access. For journalists, this can mean a lot of sensitive material, including leaked documents, identities of sources and unpublished story drafts.

Bill Budington a security engineer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group dedicated to digital privacy, points to the particularly risky situation of crossing a border and recommends a series of products and measures journalists and others can adopt to keep files safe in the most at-risk circumstances.

His first tip: When most under threat, ditch your primary laptop or smartphone completely. If you have a burner phone or a cheap netbook that doesn’t contain sensitive data, bring this secondary device along instead while traveling.

But when burner devices aren’t an option, Budington says, “the most powerful thing” a person can do to keep devices safe at a border-crossing is to make sure the hard drive is fully encrypted beforehand – helping to ensure that only those with the device’s passphrase will be able to access its files. This step is also among the easiest – for Mac iOS and some Windows users, it can be as simple as clicking a few buttons to activate built-in encryption programs.

Even with an encrypted hard drive, hackers can attempt to “brute-force” a password, potentially gaining access to the encrypted data. (In many jurisdictions, courts and law enforcement agencies can try to compel you to turn over your password under threat of punishment, including incarceration.) An open-source program called VeraCrypt can add an additional layer of encryption, so that, even if hackers get access to your hard drive, they then must enter what amounts to a highly-fortified folder to gain access to your most sensitive information.

Yet even the most highly secured hard drive will provide little help in protecting your data when you inevitably need to transfer a sensitive document to someone else via the internet. Some of the most prominent file-sharing programs, such as Google Drive and Dropbox, do not provide what Budington calls “client-side” encryption by default.

“For cloud storage, the most important feature for secure storage is for the program you’re using to encrypt files locally on your own machine before they are uploaded to the cloud servers,” Budington told the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). There are some services that provide local encryption prior to upload – Budington recommends SpiderOak, the Keybase filesystemtresoritand Jungle Disk.

You can learn more about device security and document storage by watching a security talk Budington gave in December.

3. Password managers

As hackers become more sophisticated, maintaining strong and up-to-date passwords that aren’t reused across different services is a must. But for reporters who use numerous online services and databases, this can become burdensome: Memorizing a series of complex and ever-changing passwords isn’t feasible and storing them in your computer or email makes them prone to fall into the hands of hackers.

Chris Walker, Digital Security Advisor at the Tactical Technology Collective, a cyber security initiative based in Berlin, recommends solving this problem with an encrypted password manager, which can both generate and store your passwords for you.

“Writing down your passwords and keeping them all in one place might not sound like a good idea at first,” Walker says, but he assures that with the right password manager, users will be more secure with fewer hassles. These apps can both generate stronger passwords and remember them for you.

KeyPass is just one Password manager available.
 
Walker recommends one tool in particular: KeePassXC, a system he describes as highly secure. “It is well maintained, free and open-source software that relies on well understood, standards-based encryption to protect your passwords,” Walker says. “It is also quite simple. It does not try to store your data online or sync between multiple devices. This simplicity helps protect KeePassXC from many potential avenues of attack.”

KeePassXC also has competitors that have been highly rated, including Lastpass, which both Securityplanner.org and online consumer guide Wirecutter recently recommended.

4. Two-factor authentication and its innovations

But Walker is quick to point out that even the most well-managed passwords must be used, when possible, alongside two-factor authentication – an extra layer of security that most often requires users to enter a temporary code that is only accessible from a personal device, usually a cell phone, in addition to their passwords. The idea is that, even if hackers have cracked your password, they still must somehow get their hands on a physical device that only you carry.

This is a basic step that should be used whenever you need to log in to an online service – including email portals, Twitter, Facebook, bank accounts and wherever else you use passwords to protect and to prevent hackers obtaining sensitive information.

One problem with this: The text messages containing these codes can be intercepted. This year may also see a growing adoption of a new sort of two-factor authentication that security engineers believe may be safer than receiving a code on your iPhone: Google is now offering to provide people at high risk of surveillance a program that requires users deploy two physical authenticator keys as a final step for unlocking an account. The devices can fit on a keychain and use USB or bluetooth technology to communicate with your computer and smartphone.

Google’s two-factor authentication requires an extra login step.

Runa Sandvik, the senior director of information security at The New York Times, is a fan of Google’s new initiative, known as the Advanced Protection Program. “I think the Advanced Protection Program (APP) is a great option for at-risk users,” Sandvik told ICIJ. “I have, personally, used APP for a few months and see no reason not to turn it on.”

For more information on Google’s APP and its physical security key, the New York Times has a good article on it and you can also visit the Google’s website. (Unfortunately, this feature isn’t free – each key costs about $20.)

5. Slack alternatives for your office

Over the past several years, new technology known widely by the brand-named Slack has pervaded American office culture. It’s part chat, part email, highly distracting and can archive everything you say and all the documents you upload. Slack has been criticized for its lack of full encryption, and, last year, a web security researcher discovered that a vulnerability in Slack’s code would allow hackers to gain access to millions of users’ private conversations – a particularly sensitive potential exposure for some, given that Slack’s private channels are infamous for encouraging fierce workplace gossip.

Slack does not offer end-to-end encryption, so the contents of your communications may be retrievable if the firm receives an order from, say, an intelligence agency or law enforcement office. Martin Shelton, a data security researcher who works with at-risk groups, says that, although Slack may be the most user-friendly service of its kind, organizations seeking a higher level of security have other options. Semaphor, designed by the tech security firm SpiderOak, is a prominent alternative to Slack. Shelton recommends it as a “nice choice for an end-to-end encrypted chat,” but notes that its “user experience is a little clunky.”

Shelton also points to Mattermost, another potentially appealing chat application for organizations on perhaps the more established side. Like Signal, Mattermost’s code is open source, meaning that anyone can inspect its architecture for vulnerabilities.

“This is great because it’s regularly audited by security researchers,” Shelton says. “You can also host it on your own server, so you know where your data is located,” Shelton notes that this last feature can, however, mean a bit more work. “News institutions will need administrators who know what they’re doing to maintain the server,” Shelton says.

As the Electronic Frontier Foundation reminds us, good data security is a process, not just a series of products. The tools above only offer a start. Some commonly used digital security products that didn’t make the list also include email encryption – which can be a pain to set up but can ensure your encrypted emails are all but impenetrable – as well as secure and private web browsing with Tor and DuckDuckGo.

For more tools and a more detailed explanation of how to use them, take a look at the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Surveillance Self-Defense project and the Citizen Lab’s SecurityPlanner.org. Threats to journalists may be building, but, luckily, so are our defenses against them.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Source: This article was usa.kaspersky.com - Contributed by Member: Barbara Larson

Even though computers have become a constant feature of modern life, many people still don't realize the enormous risks that come from constant interaction with technology. 

Computer viruses are one of the oldest forms of malware — in other words, malicious software designed to do harm — but their ability to avoid detection and replicate themselves means that these programs will always be cause for worry. Understanding just what a virus can do to your computer is the first step to securing your system and protecting your family from attack.

A Computer Virus' Potential

The only real qualification for a piece of software to be labeled a "virus" is that the program has the ability to replicate itself onto other machines. This means that not all viruses pose a direct threat to your computer, but often even latent viruses will allow cyberthieves and hackers to install more damaging programs like worms and Trojans. 
Regardless of the intention of the computer virus, the program will take up some system resources while it runs. This slows down your system, even bringing your computer to an abrupt halt if the virus hogs enough resources or if there are many viruses running at the same time.

More often, the computer virus has some kind of malicious intent, either written into the virus itself or from the other pieces of malware that the virus installs. This software can take a number of harmful actions, like opening up a back door to the computer where hackers can take control of the system, or stealing confidential personal information like online banking credentials or credit card numbers. It could also direct your Web browser to unwanted, often pornographic, sites, or even lock the computer down and ask for a ransom to open it back up again. In the most severe cases, viruses can corrupt important computer files, rendering the system useless. Windows OS products are often targets of these types of vulnerabilities so be sure you're secure whether you are running the newest OS , XP, or Windows 8 - security is essential.

How to be a Savvy Computer-User

So with all the damage that a virus can do, you're sure to wonder how you can protect yourself and your family from these threats. The first step is the most obvious, and it all comes down to using your computer in a smart way. 
Ensure all your programs have the latest version of antivirus software installed. This is especially true for things like your operating system, security software and Web browser, but also holds true for just about any program that you frequently use. Viruses often take advantages of bugs or exploits in the code of these programs to propagate to new machines, and while the companies that make the programs are usually quick to fix the holes, those fixes only work if they have been downloaded to your computer. 


It's also important to avoid taking actions that could put your computer at risk. These include opening unsolicited email attachments, visiting unknown websites or downloading software from untrustworthy websites or peer-to-peer file transfer networks. To ensure that the entire family understands the risks, these procedures should be taught to everyone, and children should have their Internet use monitored to ensure they aren't visiting suspect websites or downloading random programs or files.

How to Install Virus Prevention and Detection Software

The next important step in protecting your computer and your family is to install trusted computer security software that can actively scan your system and provide virus protection. You should be warned, however, that not all security solutions are the same. 
Free antivirus software abounds on the Internet, but much of it isn't robust enough to offer complete protection or updated frequently enough to be of much use. Horrifyingly, some of this free software doesn't do anything at all and instead installs viruses, adware, spyware or Trojans when you try to download and install the program. 
If the price is a factor, the best option is to find a competitively priced Internet security solution that offers a free antivirus trial, so that you can see the software in action, and how your computer responds after being cleaned, before you make a purchasing decision. 
The hardest part about all of this is that while each day many threats are neutralized, more are then created in their place. This means that as long as there's an Internet, computer viruses will continue to be a problem. Ignoring the issue or thinking that it won't affect you is a sure way to get your computer compromised, and put your family's information or peace of mind at risk.

Categorized in Internet Privacy
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