You see it in the news everyday. Natural disasters, terror attacks, even civil unrest. What do you do when something happens and you are at work? What if you could not make it back to your home and had to survive with just the things you have on you, or in your vehicle? What if you did not have access to food or drinkable water for several days? Could you survive?
My friend Richard covers all of these topics and more on his new website “The Office Survivalist”. Richard is a highly intelligent, and driven professional computer trainer for the DoD realm. A fellow cybersecurity fanatic and sharpshooter. And let’s not foget about his great sense of humor to boot!
On his site you will see exceptional articles about what to do when things go south and great videos on products that could keep you alive. If you want to learn about surviving the unforeseen check out “The Office Survivalist.”
Whenever you go to a website, everything you see is downloaded to your computer and stored. Also, whenever you select preferences on a website, this information is stored in what is called a “cookie”. That way, when you go to your favorite news website again, it reads your preferences from the cookie and takes you right to your personalized page. The settings for how long this information is to be stored are set in your browser. Also, your browser stores the history of websites that you have visited.
Herein lies the problem, hackers can setup a website that looks legitimate. When you go to this website, it could use a software program that reads your history cache and tell what sites that you have been on. They may also be able to access your cookies. Why is that so bad you ask? Well, say you give this bogus site a name and password, to sign up for a fake newsletter or such. Most people like to use the same name on many sites. It could also be the name you use for your company login. Also, you do use different passwords for different sites right? If you don’t, they now have your username, password and a list of your other sites that you visit. You didn’t give them your credit card number too did you??
Okay, so how to protect yourself? Don’t order online, unless you feel the site is legit. Don’t use the same password for your online backing and your social networking accounts. Delete your history and temporary internet cache whenever done on a secure site, like banking, ordering online, or any government or military accounts. Check your internet browser help for instructions on deleting your internet history.
Most internet browsers cache what site you last visited and offers that information to the next site you go to. It is called an HTTP Referrer. This information is used for website statistics and demographics. This information could potentially be used for nefarious reasons. The company GRC makes the well known Spinrite hard disk recovery software and security software. According to their site:
“The web’s HTTP protocol was designed with little concern for a web surfer’s privacy and well before aggressive commercial interests decided to track surfers across the web, while storing and compiling any personal information that might leak from their browser.
Information is leaking from web browsers?
Yes, absolutely, and frighteningly so. The often repeated claims that “no user identifiable information is being sent or collected” is just so much nonsense. Those statements are meant to lull trusting and uninformed Internet users into a false sense of privacy and security.
When a web resource is requested from a server, the “Referer” header line provides the requested server with the URL of the web page that requested the item. But if an online web form has just been filled out and submitted using the most common “GET” method, the web surfer’s potentially personal and private data will appear in the URL and it will be sent to any third-party servers, such as advertising, tracking, or web-bug servers, whose resources appear on the form’s submission confirmation page!”
Now some browsers, like Internet Explorer, are supposed to block this HTTP Referrer when you leave a secure site and go to a none secure website, but not all browsers do. Also, your IP address is given to websites so they can track demographics. If you are not using a proxy, firewall or internet security software, this could point directly back to your individual machine. While you are at GRC, it is also a great place to check and see if you have any open ports on your system. Their Shields Up! online program checks to see if your firewall is doing its job and blocking access to your computer. The best you can get is a “True Stealth” rating, which means that your firewall doesn’t give your computer away by responding to general ping or probing requests. If you have open ports, you should check into it.
Daniel W. Dieterle