Security through Intelligence

Adam Vincent

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Safe Internet Browsing

Pulling out your phone to check the football game score for your Alma mater on a Saturday is very tempting.  And if you’ve missed the game, it’s so nice to hop on your pc or tablet once you’re home to catch the game’s highlights.  Proceed with caution.

Before you online shop or catch-up that post-game commentary, make sure that your favorite Internet Browser is secure.  Should your surfing accidentally take you to a malicious site, a Virus, Trojan or Worm may be waiting to steal sensitive data from your pc – financial information, tax information, etc.

Cyber Squared has a few quick pointers to help secure your Internet Browser.  We are not going to recommend a browser for you, because they each offer different features.  Depending on the browser and version you use, the steps provided (below) may differ slightly.

Cookies aren’t just for eating

Once you hop on the Internet and go to a web page, pieces of information about your browsing behavior on a site are tracked in cookies.  While cookies are essential for some online activities, shopping for instance, we recommend that you manage these cookies yourself to better protect your data from harmful spyware.

Here’s how to do it:  In most browsers, go to the Tools menu then Options.  For Firefox it’s a tab called Privacy, and click where it says “Accept cookies from sites” and “Accept 3rd party cookies”.  Choose “Keep until:  Ask me every time”.  Applying this setting will enable you to better manage your cookies. (and go make some chocolate chip cookies).

Anti-Virus can help browsing too

As cyber criminals and evil doers of the digital age get more and more sophisticated, the anti-virus companies have upped their game by increasing the protection offered.  Many vendors now provide an Internet browsing plug-in via a toolbar or safe searching website feature.  Norton, as a “heads-up” to their subscribers, checks websites and provides a green check mark if it is believed to be a safe site.  It gives you a bit of information before you proceed to a site that hasn’t been determined as safe.

All I want is a Push-Pop

Cyber criminals like to use little pop-up boxes on websites that are invisible to the naked eye.   This small box actually contains malicious code that can provide a handle into your pc or tablet.  To avoid these, we suggest going to your Tools menu and “disabling pop-ups”.  This simple setting can make you less vulnerable against this method of an attack.

Don’t be too active

Software developers have new tools and techniques for improving website functionality.  ActiveX and Cross-Site scripting are two such examples.  When in the hands of evildoers, they can be a nice backdoor into your computer’s sensitive files.  To be safe, we suggest disabling this feature on your browser.

Here’s how to do it:  When using Internet Explorer, click on Tools and then Options.  From there go to the Security tab and then Custom level.  While looking at the Security settings, scroll down and you will see “Run ActiveX controls and plug-ins” and click Disable.

Some add-ons are good

There is a simple browsing extension called NoScript.  This simple open source program is a browsing extension that provides another layer of protection to your browsing experience.  As you surf to a website, it asks you to ensure you want scripting languages like Java, Javascript, Flash and other plugins to be executed prior to your knowledge.

There are additional ways to secure your browsing experience.  Implementing them really depends on how secure you want to be; you must balance the risk and the functionality of the website.  While this isn’t a complete list, it is a good start to a more secure path.  Stay safe by staying vigilant, and making sure the site you are accessing is really secure.

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Adam is an internationally renowned information security expert and is currently the CEO and a founder at Cyber Squared Inc. He possesses over a decade of experience in programming, network security, penetration testing, cryptography design & cryptanalysis, identity and access control, and a detailed expertise in information security. The culmination of this knowledge has led to the company’s creation of ThreatConnect™, the first-of-its-kind threat intelligence platform. He currently serves as an advisor to multiple security-focused organizations and has provided consultation to numerous businesses ranging from start-ups to governments, Fortune 500 organizations, and top financial institutions. Adam holds an MS in computer science with graduate certifications in computer security and information assurance from George Washington University. Vincent lives in Arlington, VA with his wife, two children, and dog.