What background do I have in computer security?
Let me give you my background when it comes to computer security. In the year 2008, I was in the 2nd year of my college education. My parents had given me a macbook pro. I know Apple, right. What my parents didn’t know was I had installed linux on there. Two in fact. One was Ubuntu. The other was BackTrack 2.
BackTrack 2 was focused on digital forensics and penetration testing. What does this mean to you? To most common people nothing. The simple version is a couple things you could do with BackTrack 2 was crack passwords on wifi, email, computers. I learned how to use BackTrack to understand computers even better and to be safer. BackTrack eventual became Kali Linux [Kali for short]. I have a copy of Kali on me at all times on a USB stick. I test my network on a weekly basis with Kali to see how secure I am. If there is a flaw, I fix it.
You may be wondering am I gray hat hacker? I don’t of myself as hacker. More of a tinker. I’m not a computer security expert. I’m always in a constant state of learning.
Forget Passwords, one password for everthing is dangerous, and 8 characters is not enough
Listen. I know life gets busy. You want fast and convenient. However when it comes to securing your accounts, you should take you time. You may think eight characters is enough but even with upper case, lower case, and symbols, it would only take 6 hours to crack. It is also only about 2 to 3 bits encryption. IE very weak. Using one password for everything, even if you vary it is very dangerous to do.
Should you ever let your browser remember your passwords?
How many bits of encryption?
Encryption or how safe your password is measured in bits. The more bits, the more secure your password. I have a total of 70 18 character passpharses. An eighteen character password would take 8.574×10^20 years to calculate and it has 111 bits encryption.
What is a passphrase?
Passwords are not great. They are flawed. Plus remembering different numbers and letters with symbols can get tedious. This is where passpharses come in. The passpharse is a password formed from a sentence of sorts. Example of a sentence and the passpharse:
Tacos are not to be taken Lightly in a fight when it comes to money
This passpharse would take 125.3 quadrillion years to to calculate. It is 98 bits level of encryption. You could probably memorize a couple different passpharses for a few of your different accounts but I would strongly recommending getting a password manager. I’ll be covering password managers a little later in this post.
Is it inconvenient to type in a second code? Yes. Is it safer? Also yes. Turn on it for every account you have and can turn it on for.
Password Managers Overview
Do you have more than one account across the web? Do you wish there was a way to keep track of all your passpharses? Do you you wish you can have something just make a password for you? Password Managers are the answer to all these. You have a couple of options.
Lastpass – Price Free for Phone and PC
This is a solid password manager. It has an extension you install for you favorite browser, extracts the passwords you let your browser remember, and then when you login into a website it’ll ask if you want it to remember. Click yes and stores it in your password vault. It has a security challenge to test the strength of your passwords and let you know where you need to improve. You set your master password for Lastpass and that will be the only one you will have to remember. It encrypts your passwords with 256 bit level of encryption to keep them safe. It also has two-factor authorization to go along with the master password as optional. It can also randomly generate passwords of various lengths. I have used it before and do think it is a good option for most people to use.
Keepass – Free
Keepass is an opensource secure password manager that you install onto your computer. You do set a master password for it. As for how to use it, follow the link to the handy tutorial made by the Keepass people:
Keepass requires a little more work to set up but it is still a good password manager.
The Router is one of your gateways onto the internet. A good setup has 4 gateways. First the modem, second router, third a firewall on the router, and fourth a firewall on the computer.
Wireless Router Security Basics
First get a router that has firewall built into the software. Second change the default password to interact with the router. Third name your network. Fourth setup an 18 character passphrase for your network. Fifth setup a guest network with an 18 character passphrase. When you have guest that ask to use your network. Give them the guest one. Once they leave change the passphrase for the guest network.
Why you should hard line as much as you can
The router is setup. So connect everything wireless, right? Wrong. The more things connected wireless the greater the risk. Wire you computer, laptop, roku, tv, bluray player, everything you can wire to the router do it. Why? It has a built in firewall. What if you run out of slots on the back of a router? Switches are your friend. What about cables, where should I get them and what kind? Cat5e is fine for everyone. You can get them for cheap at monoprice.
Securing Your Wireless Printer
Do you use a wireless printer? Isn’t it convenient and great? It’s also a security risk if you don’t secure it. I have a wireless printer that I secured. It’s plugged into my network but it won’t print unless my main computer is on and I’m logged into the computer. If the computer is on but I’m not logged in, then it will not print.
Securing Your Phone
Your phone is like a mini personal computer. While it may be convenient to just have it set to slide to unlock, it is not safe.
I personally don’t do this. Nor would I recommend this.
18 character passphrase.
I personally use this. Patterns are harder to figure out and I wipe my phone with a microfiber cloth so there is no smug as to where the pattern is.
This can and has been hacked. It’s not secure in my opinion.
Login to your computer
Do you have your computer auto login? I would suggest you stop doing that. It’s a good practice to login by typing out a password. You can take it even further by locking your computer to a usb key you make yourself. You could also use something like USB Raptor.
Extreme Caution on Internet of Things Devices
If you are thinking of getting any internet of things devices, I strongly urge you to not get any right now. Why? Because their isn’t a universal security protocol for them. Now you could set up your own internet of things devices with a couple raspberry pis hooked up wireless to your secured wireless router and you’d be better protected than those that buy Internet of Things off the shelf.
Virus and Malware Protection
Do you have a computer? Then you need an anti-virus and malware protection. Before we get into that, let’s go over a couple of things.
What is a computer virus?
Computer code that can copy itself and can lead to a corrupted system or destroyed data.
What is malware?
Software that interrupts day to day usage of the computer, collects information: such as credit card numbers, passwords, etc. , can pop ads.
What is Ransomeware?:
Software that blocks access to a computer until money is paid.
What is Man in the Middle?
“In its simplest form, the attack requires only that the attacker place himself between two parties that are trying to communicate and that he be able to intercept the messages being sent and further have the ability to impersonate at least one of the parties.” https://blog.kaspersky.com/man-in-the-middle-attack/1613/
What is a firewall?
Software that prevents unauthorized access to or from a private network
Malware Protection Software
Software that prevents, detects and removes malicious programming on individual computers.
Virus Protection Software
Detects and destroys computer viruses
Concerning Free Virus Protection:
I read the reports put out by SE Labs , AV-Comparatives , and AV-Test. Avast has been popular among people but I have major issues with it. Did you know the free one on default has a setting that injects your email with a signature saying it has been protected and scanned by avast. That could be exploited. I use to use AVAST until they did the signature injection. Avast is resource heavy and has interfered with being able to play some games. While free Virus protection is available, it is not necessarily the best option. Research your choice. See how it performs in the reports. Read reviews of the current version because they change from year to year.
I use a premium virus and malware protection
I use Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. After AVAST failing to meet my standards I went looking for a software that meet them. My standards are: Not Resource Heavy, and Does well on virus protection and malware protection. It was between Bitdefender or Kaspersky. Those two are top Virus Protection right now. Paying for virus protection is something I don’t mind doing. I’ve been using it for a year now. It also blocks malicious web ads. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus also performs well against malware. It also has a firewall. It has worked for me. It doesn’t cost that much as it’s on a year basis.
Free Malware Protection
Malwarebytes is what I used for free for awhile. The free one is just as good as the premium version you just have to manually update it everyday. It’s protected from malware on a number of occasions from sites that have been safe in the past. You need a good virus protection software combined with a good malware protection software to protect your pc. For me that’s Bitdefender Antivirus Plus.
Free Firewall Protection
Glasswire is solid free firewall software that you can install on your computer. I don’t use it personally since I have one from my router and Bitdefender but I have installed Glasswire on others computers.
It is my sincere hope, that you take securing your accounts and devices seriously.
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