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Open Edit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-11-10 12:44 AM
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Computer Security
Edited on Sun Sep-19-10 03:58 PM by struggle4progress
Introduction to Computer Security Threats

There is no guaranteed way to avoid computer security issues unless your machine is always completely isolated from the outside world. Whenever you connect to the internet, and whenever disks or drives that have been connected to other machines are used on your machine, there is a possible security issue. Dangers can be reduced substantially by your cautious behavior and intelligent use of existing security tools, but the risk cannot be eliminated completely. Possible problems include, for example, compromise of banking or credit card information or other personal data, unauthorized use of your machine for criminal purposes by third parties, and prankster vandalism of software programs on your machine

We focus here on free resources. Consider doing further research, as this Topic will not be exhaustive and may not be up-to-date

Computer Security, Defense-in-Depth

Safeguarding your personal information

It is easiest for someone to steal your important personal data (such as bank account numbers or credit card information) if you provide it to them. So do not post such information online. You should be careful when transmitting personal data by electronic methods such as emails, since eavesdroppers may be able to retrieve such information by intercepting parts of transmitted packets; it is preferable to transmit such data in a secure fashion. Also be aware that if you send personal data by email, even in a form you consider secure, it may reside in the recipient's inbox in cyberspace for an extended period; the longer it remains undeleted, or insecurely deleted, the more opportunity there is for someone to obtain it by hacking into the email system. Do not engage in any online banking or online purchase activities without first assessing the security of the transaction. Spammers have been known to spoof legitimate websites in order to collect private information. Some (but not all) efforts are painfully amateurish and obvious; others can be quite sophisticated. Hyperlinks may not actually point to the address indicated

Requests for your account information ('phishing' scams)
Anti-Phishing Work Group
SPAMfighter: Free spam and phishing filter for Windows

Careless online purchases with disreputable companies can cause you major headaches. Amateurish webpages can be a warning sign. To reduce the risk of identity theft, be sure your credit card transaction is transmitted securely. Investigate unknown companies before engaging in business with them: reviews from other customers can be helpful; in general, these reviews may be more reliable when hundreds or thousands of reviews are available

Double-checking companies
Better Business Bureau: Check Out a Business or Charity
Reseller ratings: Find a store
Ripoff Report - disgruntled consumers, sometimes with company rebuttals
Complaints Board

Preventing infection by viruses and malware

Your browsing habits, choice of browser and browser settings, use of anti-virus and firewall software, and choice of operating system can all affect your risk of being infected by viruses or worms, your chance of installing malware and trojans, and the possibility of malevolent control of your machine by third parties. If you have a network connected to the web, protect it appropriately. A wireless network (for example) should be protected by a secure password, so that unauthorized persons cannot connect to it. Downloading material from the web is not a risk-free activity. The risk presumably increases if you download free material from nonstandard sites and increases even more if the material is pirated. However, some viruses have also spread through mass-produced CDs or similar commercial products. As a general rule, do not click links in unexpected emails

A number of anti-virus and firewall products are available. Some of these may be provided with operating systems; some can be obtained for free; and some are pay-to-use commercial products. When using such products, it is important to keep them up-to-date

Unfortunately, however, there are also various scams involving nonfunctional "security programs" designed to obtain your money or credit card number. A common scam involves malware that is downloaded to the user's computer during websurfing; the malware later displays a pop-up window indicating that a virus has been found and encouraging the user to buy a particular "antivirus" product. The call-to-purchase may be reinforced by increasingly frequent pop-up windows that can render normal computer use impossible. The malware can sometimes be difficult to remove. Examples include MS Antivirus and AntiVirus Pro 2010 (which masquerades under dozens of different names)

Anti-Virus Guide
Freebyte's Guide to Free Anti-Virus Software
SuperAntiSpyware Free Edition
Web of Trust

Online help forums

Operating System Specific Advice

As a rule of thumb, one expects the most popular operating systems to a more frequent target of malicious software. So there is some advantage to using (say) a Linux distro or OS X instead of Windows, since the majority (but not all) of software threats are directed against Windows

Users do not uniformly agree about whether anti-virus programs are worth the effort to protect Linux and OS X systems; however, if you use Linux or OS X in a work environment where filesharing is necessary, it may still be prudent to take some precautions, especially if you share files directly or indirectly with Windows system users, in order to avoid the possibility of transferring a virus to another machine

Linux firewalls for newbies
Avira AntiVir: free antivirus
AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.5 for Linux
ClamAV: Unobtrusive Anti-Virus for Linux
GUFW: GUI for ufw firewall

Under the Security tab, Snow Leopard offers a firewall that can block all incoming connections. At a lower level of security, it can also be set to allow or disallow software to receive connections with a security certificate and to allow "stealth mode" browsing so that the computer does not respond to pings and similar connect attempts. It is also possible to use secure virtual memory

Macintosh Internet Security Guide
Apple security updates
Mac OS X Security Checklist (U Illinois advice)
New Mac Security News (SecureMac)

Microsoft Security Essentials
Microsoft Security TechCenter
Microsoft Malware Protection Center
Windows Defender (Microsoft)
SafeXP (free version) - adjust XP security and privacy settings
Pros and Cons of Windows 7 Security
Active Scan: online infection scan for Windows and IE or Firefox
ESET: free online scan
F-Secure Online Scanner: Requires browser plug-in
HouseCall: online virus and worm scan for Windows (small download required)
Threat Scanner: online virus and malware scan for Windows and IE
Belarc Advisor - Free Personal PC Audit
avast! Home Edition
Avira: free and commercial tools
AVG Anti-Virus
Free Virus Removal Tools (BitDefender)
Panda Cloud Antivirus
Comodo Free Firewall and AntiVirus
Iobit Security 360 Free:malware/spyware scan
Superantispyware (free edition)
ZoneAlarm 3rd Party Guide
Secunia Personal Software Inspector

Completely removing unused programs and old files may also help reduce vulnerabilities
Revo Uninstaller (freeware)

Online Testing of OS Settings
ShieldsUP!: attempts port scans and reports the results

Sophos Anti-Rootkit
Rootkit Buster (TrendMicro)

DNS issues
To access an address such as "www.democratic.underground," it is necessary to reference an online dictionary (the DNS) and then look-up a numerical version of the website name, indicating how to find the website. Master copies of the DNS are widely recopied for local use

In principle, it is possible to corrupt these dictionaries and to send the websurfer off to a phony site. The fact that you see the expected domain name in your browser navigation window is not necessarily proof that you have navigated to the expected website: this can happen if the DNS server you are using has a poisoned cache. Security certificates should therefore be taken seriously. For the same reason, you may want to be cautious about using software that promises to connect you to the fastest DNS available, if you cannot ensure connection to a DNS secure from cache poisoning

An Illustrated Guide to the Kaminsky DNS Vulnerability
Google Public DNS
namebench - open source DNS benchmarking, checks cache poisoning vulnerability by querying a service

Browser Specific Advice

Become familiar with security setting options for your browser. Current versions of some common browsers (such as Internet Explorer, Foxfire, and Safari) allow the user to automatically block known malicious sites, including phishing sites

Keep your browser software updated and realize that add-ons and plug-ins can introduce security gaps

Understanding the Web browser threat
Comparison of web browsers
One Security Prediction for 2010
Comparison of web browsers

Attempts to limit security threats by sandboxing
Allows control of Java and Javascript in Preferences
Firefox addon notifies about webpage spying
Firefox addon prevents executable content in webpages unless allowed by user
Known Vulnerabilities in Mozilla Products
Vendor information for Firefox, SeaMonkey, and Thunderbird
Allows control of Java and Javascript in Preferences or by checkboxes in the chrome
Allows control of Java and Javascript in Preferences

Wi-Fi Security
7 tips for working securely from wireless hotspots (MicroSoft)
How do I stay safe in an internet cafe?
Practical Wi-Fi security (HP)
Best Security for Wireless Networks
Top Ten Free Wi-Fi Security Test Tools
PacketProtector - "WARNING- installing third party firmware (like PacketProtector) will void your warranty"
Nasty New Worm Targets Home Routers, Cable Modems

The Chinese Google Hack (January 2010)
This attack involved sending emails with links to targeted employees at various companies. Clicking the link downloaded sophisticated malware that exploited vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer and perhaps also in several Adobe products

Operation “Aurora” Hit Google, Others (McAfee)
Microsoft Security Advisory (979352)
Microsoft Security Advisory (979267)
How to protect yourself against the Chinese Google hack (ComputerWorld)
German Government: Stop Using Internet Explorer
Adobe Reader and Acrobat ... APSA09-07

Further Reading:

The Difference Between a Computer Virus, Worm and Trojan Horse
Virus, Spyware and Trojan Removal
CyberTech: Malware Removal Forum: Read the stickies and follow the instructions
Major Geeks: Malware Removal Guide
Geeks to Go: Malware and Spyware Cleaning Guide
Ransomware: Extortion via the Internet
How Spyware Works
Spybot Search and Destroy
How to Detect and Remove Annoying Spyware/Adware (SecureMost)
The Best Security Suites for 2009: PCMag's take on security software
15 Free Security and Backup Utilities (PC Mag)
Common Windows PC Issues: Tips to Diagnose and fix a slow running computer
DSLReports: Security Forum

Online Databases
Threat Explorer (Symantec)
Threat Encyclopedia (Trend Micro)
Security analyses (Sophos)
Virus Encyclopedia (CA)
Secunia Advisories

Some Recovery Tools
Guide to Saving your Windows System with Thumb Drive (Lifehacker)
Put System Rescue CD on USB using Windows
Create multiboot rescue USB flash drive

The purpose of this thread is to develop an organized introduction to computer security issues for DUers, with some emphasis on free tools for home users. It is largely based on an older pinned security thread, as well as other user posts in various DU forums. No real effort has been made to credit all DUers who contributed information, simply because that would double the size of this topic. Nevertheless, the following two threads may deserve some attention:

An old pinned thread on the topic is here:
Security Help

A discussion on revising the old pinned threads is here:
Is it time to create a new "Security Help" thread to be pinned at the top of this forum?

You can edit this Topic directly or post suggestions in this Talk Box

If you find dead links, please (at minimum) do something like leaving a note in this Talk Box

If you have long and detailed comments on a specific security issue, consider starting a new Open Edit on that issue in the Research forum and adding a link here to that Topic

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