Whether you like it or not, hackers and virus coders have always been a few steps ahead of us. They devise new ways to take control of our devices and bank accounts. In an edifying TED talk, James Lyne, a security analyst pinpoints some of the new tricks hackers have kept up their sleeves. In the talk he shows how a malicious code when entered in the comments section of an unsecured website, can redirect all its future visitors to a vicious website. A kinked tool that looks like an Anti-Virus suite and fools you to enter your credit card details. It’s an incredibly informative talk, you should probably watch it.
To check how secure your computer really is (and fixes, if it is not), take it out for a spin and undertake the following measures.
Plant a virus
This will sound absurd, and it probably is, but to check how effective your Anti-Virus suite is, you need to download a virus into your system. This is not any regular virus, but a very specific one. This is a part of the test called EICAR (European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research), which offers you a virus, and the catch is that if your Anti-Virus is efficient enough it will be able to detect that virus. Some Anti-Virus, like the one I am using (AVG) didn’t let the download to proceed. If your Anti-Virus does the same, it is a good thing, don’t sweat on it.
Remove saved passwords
Problem with so many great services available on the web is that you have to remember the username and password of all the accounts. To make things easier, most of us don’t mind letting our web-browsers save the login credentials. As convenient as it is, it arises some critical security concerns. Anyone locally or remotely can know your log-in credentials. It is that easy.
To remove your password from Chrome browser, go to the Settings, scroll down and from the Passwords and forms option, click on “Manage saved passwords.”. Delete all the entries.
Firefox users need to go the options, and under the security tab, they can remove all log-in credentials. You can use password management tools like KeePass and LastPass to save your time.
Check your browser plugins
There have been numerous cases in the past where the hacker got access to the victim’s computer through a malicious plug-in. Although there are many software, such as WinPatrol, Glary Utilities and many other which we have extensively covered in our weekly downloads articles, finding which extension is the crook can’t be done by them. To do that you will need to use BrowserCheck. It scans your browser and looks for the plug-ins you have installed on it. Additionally it will inform you if any of the installed plug-in is outdated.
Find who is on your WiFi network
If you don’t secure your WiFi network and make it password protected, you are simply inviting people to use your internet. Besides eating your data, with the help of many tools, the intruder can hop your WiFI network, if not get into your computer. Hence it is very important that you make your network password protected. To check who is on your WiFi network, download the tool Who is On My Wifi and the software will tell you all about it.
Don’t let anyone change your router’s settings
Many routers let any device which is connected to it configure its settings. All you need is the default IP address of your router, and the default password – both of which can be found very easily online. To stop anyone from changing your router’s settings, you will need to disable the port which is responsible for it and other remote management features. Depending on the manufacturer of your router, the step required to perform this will be listed in the router’s manual guide. While you are at it, also change the default password of your router’s page.
Disable data sharing through USB ports
Notably, some routers come with support for USB keys, which at times come handy, but mostly it is just another door for intruders to come in and plant and leave a virus inside it. If your router has a USB port too, you need to disable it. Depending on the manufacturer, you might see that option in the router’s webpage. Again, you need to check your router’s manual guide.
Check your Firewall
Windows has a built-in Firewall. But unfortunately it is not as strong as it should be. Take your firewall for a spin test. ShieldsUP is a nifty service that reviews your system’s firewall. With your consent it checks if your computer and router are vulnerable. If your PC is working fine, all its ports should be closed – which is the job of your firewall. If the website doesn’t find any vulnerable port, it means that your firewall is working fine.
Keep all the security modules up-to-date
Many non-Microsoft programs leave security vulnerabilities in your computer. To find such patches, and fix for it, Secunia PSI is the probably the best tool for this very task. Besides the aforementioned task, the software also checks if your Windows OS is up to date and has all the required security patches or not.
Reroute your DNS
If you want a simple solution to make all your browsing secure and well administered, you need to change the DNS settings of your network. OpenDNS is a very trusted service which offers you the same. The procedure to set it up is very easy and depends on the OS you are using. I can’t stress enough how much useful this service is. Once you have made the transition, which should take less than 10 minutes, you won’t have to worry about phishing and other common internet scams.