"A Walk to Secure Future"- Part 3

Greetings Readers, as mentioned earlier, this part will be about safe browsing.

“First of all, let us understand what actually is meant by safe-browsing. When you install any antivirus like quick heal, it installs an additional feature called safe-browsing. You click on that and a browser window opens with a fancy green border. What actually it is? We have seen in our earlier post that a person trying to harm you will generally target you with a cookie grabbing script or phishing page, or a malware. But what this safe browsing does is, it scans the pages thoroughly before loading. It checks the certificate licences, action links and authentications etc. before loading the page. This involves a series of steps. The target page is first loaded in the temporary mode, access by super user. Then it looks up all the action buttons on the page, all the scripts. The incoming and outgoing data – local as well as terminal. The links are then matched with those in the signature. If any redirections are found, they are scanned too. Then a final cross check is done with the main server of the provider, in this case Quick heal, for any threats reported in that website. Then a malware search is done. This part is tricky where the crawlers scan through all the scripts running on the page, may it be php or Java or any other. The actions are thoroughly scanned. During this complete process if anything unwanted is found, the user is prompted and action is requested otherwise. This is a general functioning of any safe browsing service provider.

But is this really necessary? Do you actually need such tools to stay safe? Of course you cannot manually do all these checks but there are some things you can take care of which can protect you from a lot of threats. The first and foremost is all but same: Do not click on unwanted links. This never changes as anyone trying to harm you, just needs one opportunity, one chance to strike. Once you give it, you are at his mercy. Secondly you should use only those add ons for your browser (if you use) if they are taken from a trusted source, like the chrome web store or the Firefox official store. Or other browser portals. This will ensure a lot of things. Some scripts can be made such that they only come in action only when triggered by certain service running on your computer. And this is the foundation of a botnet network which will see in future posts.

Next you should know how to investigate links sent by anyone. How to check if there is actually any embedded script running behind it. For this, I will show you a simple way. If you come across any such link, don’t click it. Instead copy the address and open any advanced text editor like MSWord. Then right-click on that link and there must be a hyperlink option. Click on that and you can see the visible text, background text there. If you see any background text, it means you were in trouble but you just avoided it. Congratulations! If not then it means the link is safe to use LOCALLY. You never know what data is hidden inside the page which will be loaded when you click it.

Next thing you can keep in mind is to avoid as many integrated apps as you can. Integrated apps means those which allow you access using credentials from other websites. Like Facebook browser games, untrusted forums etc. they actually do not get your password from Facebook but there are other ways in which they can harm you. Limit your auto-posting. Means posts made on your name by many applications, games you play on different websites. You never know what actually they are posting. These websites are marketing under your name. In many cases, you surf pictures on other websites/apps and they get posted under your name on all social networking websites you have integrated. This is highly unsafe.

Safe browsing means the art of surfing the internet without disclosing private information that is supposed to be hidden. Technically when you surf, only the RETR and STOR requests should be transmitted. This concept dates back to the days when internet was invented. But the changing user group, market, needs and demands, this has changed a lot overtime. Nowadays, any smart person can retrieve as much information as he wants about you from the internet. This means it is now at the personal level as to how to secure yourself. One thing you should always remember, “Anything once stored on internet, remains PERMANENT. It is never lost.” This includes any photos, videos, emails, messages etc. The only difference that it makes is, once must know to look at the right place. Stay hidden and anonymous. It doesn’t mean you should avoid social networking. But it means you should know what you are doing. Nothing which can be used to harm you should ever be put on the internet.

Let us see on the technical side of it.Whenever you put on a query to traverse a webpage, you allow the webpage to access certain services on your computer. This includes your network transfer, editor, video/audio plugins etc. All of them can be easily used to damage your system critically. One simple script can induce so many malwares into your system that it makes it actually too difficult to restore. Many a times, hackers possess bot-net networks. What actually is botnet is will explain in future posts but let me disclose some information. A botnet is his private collection of systems that he can use anytime as his hosts, clients, victims, or launch pads for other projects. Make sure you don’t become a Launchpad for anybody. A webpage is a combination of a series of embedded applications, working at the command of one server. Your machine is at the server’s mercy when you browse it. Make sure you maintain the “status quo”.

You can use some add-ons in your browser to keep you safe. They are trusted and handy. You can always look them up in your browser web store. You should have an anti-phisher, no-script, http-header, cookie editor (with locking features), master auto fill app, password manager, anti-malware, a good antivirus, anonymous proxy/vpns provider etc. These are some useful add-ons, names might differ from browser to browser but their task is similar. Having them handy can save you from many threats.

Lastly I would like to tell you that when you are surfing on the internet, you are connected to infinite number of people with infinite ideas in their minds. You never know their intentions. And when you surf, you are open to all of their thoughts. 90% hacking is result of unsafe browsing. One mistake is all that is needed.

ALSO if in any case you fall victim to some kind of trouble, pray that the person abusing you is a HACKER with BRAINS. So he knows what he is doing. If it a work of a NOOB SKID, you are literally finished. He never knows what he is doing and he can actually do serious harm unintentionally. And you know that strikes worse.

In the next post, I will come up with some technical junk about intercepting packets/information where the victim is actually innocent. Thanks for reading.


Nayan Goenka


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