Online Security

The online world is one of two faces, the side where we find what we need, book holidays, save time with online services and generally enjoy ourselves. Then there is the darker side, where individuals and organisations are trying to infiltrate our lives without permission, steal our identities, money and generally destroy everything we worked hard for! So yes while we can say the Internet has given us many things, we must not discount the threats it has produced.

Being safe online these days is much harder than even 12 months ago, the methods deployed by criminals become more taxing and skilful by the day. The speed at which these new hacking techniques are being deployed far outstrips the speed at which patches are released for the software we are all using. Even the most respected browsers from Microsoft and Firefox fall foul to many a threat, despite their respective parent companies spending millions of dollars on development. It is therefore even more vital these days to be proactive in your attempts to thwart online criminals, relying on your free antivirus software alone is only going to lead to disaster these days!

Perhaps the most common, and most dangerous, system infiltrations involve key loggers and hidden P2P applications. A system compromised in this way will be working as a server, distributing pirate software or pornography to other users around the world. This takes place without your knowledge, and often with your anti-virus software still running! This is because the program has altered the way your Virus package works, so it reports it is working but really it is not. At the same time key loggers on your computer will record every thing you type, every login, every email, all your bank details will be recorded and sent back to the criminals.

Always ensure you are running with a software firewall on your computer, and preferably a hardware firewall on your modem or router too. These of course must both be setup correctly, if they are configured to allow all traffic then they are effectively not there!

Further you should ensure you are running a complete Anti-Malware package, this will cover virus, phishing, adware, key-loggers and Trojans at the same time, the better packages will include full firewall capabilities in the same package. Ensure you computer is fully patched, which these days requires you to be running with licensed software. Never use pirate copies of operating systems or Anti-Virus products, it may sound like obvious advice but it is amazing how many people trust their online security to the very people who do most of the hacking in the first place!

Finally install IP changing software with encryption technology so as to hide yourself online, as if they can’t find you they can’t attack you!


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Surf Securely With Anonymous Proxy Software

The use of anonymous proxy software is these days a well known method of browsing the Internet with some apparent degree of security, however it is perhaps not the safest activity you could do. Indeed under certain circumstances it is more dangerous to use anonymous proxy software than to surf without it.

What must you do to ensure the proxy servers you use are suitable?

There are a few things you must consider:

  1. Does the proxy log your data and if they do what happens to those logs? Almost all proxies will log data, however a good proxy server will delete that data almost immediately. Any proxy run by people with criminal intent will not do this, in fact they will keep your data to work with for as long as they need.
  2. Is your data encrypted? Most data transmitted over the internet is sent unencrypted; as such anybody who intercepts it can read it and extract information.

It is a fact that many free proxies are either servers which have been hacked or systems deliberately setup by hacking teams just to log the data of people who use the, as such free proxies are often very unsecure.

One solution is to use TOR, being an open source project these connections are generally more secure than those listed as free on general websites. However TOR is hard to configure for many applications and the speed is often so slow as to make it unusable. You are certainly unlikely to be using it to listen to audio let alone watch videos through!

A much better option is to use a premium proxy service well known in IT security circles, which offers fully anonymous proxy surfing and encodes your data with 256bit US Army grade encryption. The software runs either from your hard disk or even a USB stick, so you can take it with you and enjoy secure anonymous proxy software no matter where you are. There is no other product quite like Identity Cloaker available anywhere.

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Is Current Antivirus Enough?

There is a general argument currently being broadcast that Anti-Virus software has ‘had its day’ because the pace of virus releases is outstripping the capabilities of Anti-Virus software Vendors to issue updates to counteract them.  It is getting to the point when you would need to update your Virus database minute by minute! (a recent study by Panda Security, based in Bilbao, Spain, detects an average of 37,000 new viruses, worms, Trojans and other security threats per day!)

Look, if you said to me that folk should stop wasting their money on stand-alone anti-virus applications then I may agree with you to some point. The one thing that is outmoded is the term ‘anti-virus’.

Precisely speaking, the main online threat isn’t called a virus, a more suitable term should be ‘malware’ and it is time we started to conform to this new term.

Online threats consist of viruses, adware, key-loggers and trojans, all residing under the common term of spyware.

I understand the term ‘anti-virus’ is a heavily marketed term and when you mention the term ‘anti-virus’ to PC illiterate and green users they know precisely what you are talking about, but when you talk about ‘malware’ they often give you that glassy stare, you know, the kind of stare that screams ‘What the hell are you speaking about?!’.

Most anti-virus applications now offer protection against malware and other spyware related threats as well, so it is really daft to keep calling them anti-virus applications, they are essentially anti-malware applications.,

The older definition based anti virus protection is pretty much over as the latest anti-malware solutions are moving towards behavior based detection, however it would be suicidal to scrap anti-virus solutions just because of the fast evolution of new threats.

Scrapping your anti-virus solution would be reckless and plain dumb, just like exclaiming we should stop patching the security issues in software and leave them un-patched because the threats exploiting these failings are developing way too fast.

Should we stop installing security systems in our homes because new, more advanced burglars are born each day? If you can protect your system against known threats why not do it?

It’s correct, spyware develops much faster than the anti-malware solutions, but known malicious software gets recycled on the internet time after time. Protecting yourself against a known variant means you cannot be attacked by it again and trust me it is not uncommon to be attacked by the same variant frequently. This means antivirus software still plays an urgent role in your defense against malicious software, it also implies that anti virus program engineers are still detecting new threats at a particularly high rate.

New variants may infect a lot of PCs before they get noted, but once the anti-virus sellers release an up to date signature file to all their users, they are at least constraining the dissemination of the spyware and forestalling uninfected users from getting infected.

Scrapping anti-virus solutions means systems are left insecure, and if infected they could, for instance, be making a contribution to the processing power of bot networks like ‘hurricane’ (a gaming network bot), without your knowledge or consent, if nothing else this could use up your available bandwidth and slow down your computer.

At least an infected system can be cleaned once a new variant has been detected, thus you are pro-actively taking a bot network down bit by bit and making it tougher for the malware to spread any further. Remember, an infected machine becomes a distributor for new variants of the malware. Murdering a known variant means you are forestalling it from mutating and spreading.

It is true, the debate that the value of anti-virus software is declining is hogwash.  Improve it, don’t just scrap it, giant companies should stop putting reckless ideas into the minds of ordinary users, they should stop the throw-away-your-anti-virus-program-and-buy-our-software kind of selling. The internet is dangerous enough as it is, so don’t go encouraging folk to throw away their anti-malware applications, not even in today’s arena of sophisticated malware attacks. Anti-malware applications are frequently the sole line of defence that is’s available to beginner net users.

Right now the best thing you can do is be sure to run industry leading Anti Virus Anti-Malware Software, preferably with full firewall capability, and encrypt your online activities through a respected anonymous proxy server.

 

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Anonymous Browsing

Every time you use the Internet you are leaving a trail of breadcrumbs which anybody can follow. Sometimes this trail can have a use, for instance Google use it to target local searches to you, or weather sites can automatically give you the weather in your area.

Equally every other activity you are doing online can be tracked, what sites you visited how long you spent there, what you did while there. If you want to enjoy anonymous browsing on the internet and protect your identity you need to find a way to use the internet without leaving this trail all the way back to your computer. You may think that this data is not important, after all so many people are on the Internet and most of them are running without protection.

Why run the risk of Identity theft, and financial problems of having your bank accounts attacked, or even having your Boss knowing what you looked at during the lunch hour!

Let us consider though the world outside of your friends and family you will find even greater reasons to use anonymous browsing, as there are thousands of people monitoring what others are doing. Looking for any information they can use, or weaknesses in security systems. Whether it is the ‘IT Geek’ showing off his skills or organised gangs and criminals looking for their next victim it is going on all around us all the time. In many cases we don’t even see it happening, there are thousands of compromised computers around the world whose owners have no idea.

In most cases basic virus software is not designed to detect such hacks, your best protection is to employ anonymous browsing, to effectively not exist on the Internet. At the very worst level it would be possible to find your physical location through your IP address, while not the easiest task in the world it has happened in the past, and will happen again in the future. Imagine a situation where criminals know who you are, what you have and where you live.

On a higher level governments around the world are slowly eroding peoples freedoms by forcing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to store and provide logs of all activities that take place.

Recent events in Australia have brought the issue up again, with plans to run a nationwide proxy service to keep track and effectively restrict people’s online freedom. In Europe ISPs are obliged to keep their data on you for 2 years, that’s two years of your life on store ready to be accessed as and when needed. The idea is of course to keep track of terrorists and extremists, however as usual it is the ordinary person who is inconvenienced, as no doubt any ‘bad people’ are already hiding their activities.

OK, enough fear how can you enjoy anonymous browsing and protect yourself and your family on the web?   The first thing most people consider is an anonymous proxy server, which is a server you connect through which hides your IP address and replaces it with its own. So while it is possible to find out the IP address of the proxy server if everything is configured properly that is all that can be found out. The information on what you did still exists, but there is no way to link it directly to you.

One of the WORST things you can do is rely on a free anonymous proxy server, have you considered the fact that many of these servers are setup just to collect your data?

If you are using a server run by dishonest people then they are directly collecting everything you do and, for instance, could be storing all your Internet Banking log on details, your Bank Card details, all your usernames and passwords, details of every site you visit and E-Mail you send or receive. In other words EVERYTHING you send and receive over the Internet!

I worked in IT in Russia for several years and know for a fact many of these proxies are setup with the single intent of capturing useful data. Is that what you want when using an anonymous proxy? I would presume not, however that could very well be exactly what you are doing when running an anonymous proxy you found through Google. There truly is no such thing as a free lunch, sure many people are running their proxies with honesty but how can you know for sure which ones?

There is a much better option; you don’t have to just guess which are the safe proxies to use.

A much better option is to subscribe to one of the most respected and unique proxy services available on the Internet today.

A service which not only allows you to change your IP but encrypts your data with the same encryption system used by the US military. Where server logs are deleted almost instantly, so there is no record kept of who you are or what you were doing.

Providing you with the most robust and complete anonymous browsing experiences available. No other anonymous proxy software offers anywhere close to the level of security offered by Identity Cloaker. Software so powerful and unique you can carry it with you on a USB stick and run it wherever you are:

  • Visiting a friends house? No problem just plug the USB stick in and run the program

  • At the office? No problem, as long as you can access a USB port you can activate the software and enjoy anonymous browsing

  • School blocking certain sites? No problem, bypass the restrictions by creating a secure tunnel straight through their security

The uses of anonymous browsing are almost endless.

I highly recommend you try it out, there is a free version with very limited functionality BUT also a trial 10 day version for under 5 Euros which will allow you to fully test the software. After that subscriptions start at less than 7 Euros a month, with NO automatic billing and a 14 day money back guarantee. It is truly the most effective and unique way to enjoy anonymous browsing.

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