Computer Security Guide

Online protection for the non-technical

Password Strength

As computers and technology continue to evolve, password cracking is becoming more and more easier…not to mention faster.  If you want to see just how secure your password really is, check out

September 18, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Use Tor (The Onion Router) to Browse the Internet Safely

Tor is not new but still works quite well.  For those that do not know, Tor is free software that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance known as traffic analysis.  Network surveillance threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships.

Tor works by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world (known as exit nodes).  Tor prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location.  The great thing about Tor is that it works with many of your existing applications such as web browsers, instant messaging clients, remote login, and other applications based on the TCP protocol.

October 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Use Tor Orbot on Android Devices for Safer Communications

Orbot is an application that allows mobile phone users to access the web, instant messaging and email without being monitored or blocked by their mobile internet service provider. Orbot brings the features and functionality of Tor to the Android mobile operating system.

Orbot contains Tor, libevent and privoxy. Orbot provides a local HTTP proxy and the standard SOCKS4A/SOCKS5 proxy interfaces into the Tor network. Orbot has the ability to transparently torify all of the TCP traffic on your Android device when it has the correct permissions and system libraries.

Enhance your privacy, break through firewalls and communicate more safely.

Orbot is the official port of Tor to Android. Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet.

Find Orbot on the Android Marketplace (

October 8, 2012 Posted by | Privacy | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) and How It Aids Criminal Investigations

Investigators in all forms of law enforcement—whether local, state, or federal—routinely come across digital photographs while executing search warrants or permissive searches. These digital images may have been identified on a cellular telephone, computer, digital camera, or other form of digital media. It is common practice to look and sort through the seized images for ones that may be pertinent to the investigation at hand. A majority of the time, this process will be done back at the station. Digital images that don’t have evidentiary value are discarded… But wait: don’t forget the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Just because a digital image doesn’t depict the photographic evidence you were looking for doesn’t mean it lacks value. Digital pictures often contain metadata also known as Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF).

EXIF data can provide a treasure trove of information to investigators, including:

  • Camera model
  • Camera serial number
  • Exposure setting
  • Date and time picture was taken
  • GPS coordinates
  • GPS version ID
  • Latitude and longitude
  • Altitude
  • GPS timestamp
  • Image description
  • Software
  • Author

The full article was published in Evidence Technology Magazine.  Come check it out.

October 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Free Computer/IT Forensic Software (Email)

Computer forensic software can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars.  One of the most frequently asked questions regarding computer forensics is how to examine email.  Below is a list of free software which can examine certain aspects of email.

EDB Viewer – Allows to view Microsoft Outlook EDB files

Gmail Parser – Parses Gmail artifacts from cached HTML files

PST Viewer – Open and view Microsoft Outlook PST files

June 19, 2012 Posted by | Business, hacker, Personal, Security | Leave a comment

Top Computer Security Threats for 2011

Check out the Article which was published on

March 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where to Report Cybercrime

As we dive deeper into the information age we commonly stumble upon a problem….where to report cybercrime. Cybercrime is a unique beast because it takes place in cyberspace outside physical jurisdictions. Local police can help by taking an initial complaint or by providing you with a proper point of contact but will most likely be unable to investigate many cybercrimes that occur. The following is a list of common cybercrimes and the proper point of contacts for them (remember to call 911 if it’s an emergency):

Type of Crime                                                                       Agency

Computer intrusion (i.e. hacking)

Password trafficking 

Counterfeiting of currency 

Child Pornography or Exploitation 

Child Exploitation and Internet Fraud matters that have a mail nexus

Identity Theft

Internet fraud and SPAM

Internet harassment

Internet bomb threats

Businesses and intellectual property



Trafficking in explosive or incendiary devices or firearms over the Internet


April 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Using Self-Destruct Text Messages

TigerText is a secure text messaging platform for Smartphones which enables messages sent to self-destruct after being read. TigerText has been around for a little over a year and has grown to over 2,000,000 users. As previously mentioned, TigerText is available for Blackberry, Apple, Android, and Windows based Smartphones. Text messages are common place today. Rather than making a phone call to say you’re going to be late for dinner, we just send a text message. Sometimes we send text messages and later regret it. You know what I’m talking about; nothing says regret like drunk messing people. TigerText allows users to set the self-destruct policy of their messages between 60 seconds to 30 days after a message has been read. TigerText is the ideal tool for those wanting to keep their lives private (i.e. celebrities and politicians). More information on TigerText can be found at the company’s website

April 26, 2011 Posted by | Business, Personal, Privacy, Security, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Use strong passwords to help protect your personal information.

Passwords are the gateway on to a system or network.  They are ment for one person and one preson only.  Becuase passwords are sensitive you need to make sure they are kept in a secure place, and out of plain view, not on a piece of paper inside your desk or under your keyboard.  Don’t share your passwords on the Internet, over email, or on the phone.  No business will ever ask you for your password.  If you get an email or phone call asking for your password the first thing that should come to mind is SCAM!

In addition, without your knowledge, hackers may try to figure out your passwords to gain access to your computer using easy to find hacker software found on the Internet. You can make it tougher for them by:

  • Using passwords that have at least eight characters and include numerals and symbols.
  • Avoiding common words: some hackers use programs that can try every word in the dictionary.
  • Not using your personal information, your login name, or adjacent keys on the keyboard as passwords.
  • Changing your passwords regularly (at minimum, every 90 days).
  • Using a different password for each online account you access (or at least a variety of passwords with difficulty based on the value of the information contained in each.

One way to create a strong password is to think of a memorable phrase and use the first letter of each word as your password, converting some letters into numbers that resemble letters. For example, “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck” would become HmWc@wC.

To further increase the security of your online identity and to help protect you from account hi-jacking, take advantage of stronger authentication tools wherever available. This may take the form of two-factor authentication – the combination of a password or PIN number (something you know) with a token, smart card, or even a biometric device (something you have). Stronger authentication can also come from a behind-the-scenes identity-verification process, which uses various data to establish whether or not a user is genuine. Ask your bank, your regular online retailers, and your Internet Service Provider (ISP) if they offer stronger authentication tools for more secure transactions.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Business, Personal, Security | 1 Comment

Backup your important files.

Back up your computer!

Virtually everyone today has at least two lives…our physical life and our virutal life.  Yes, almost everyone today has a digtial life.  It’s hard not too since virtually everything we do today is done online.  In order for us to access our digital life we need to use our computer.  Our computers contain vast amounts of data in many forms: from family photos and music collections to several years’ worth of financial records and personal contacts.

In fact, a recent NSCA/Symantec study found that more than 68% of Americans store more the 25% of their photos digitally. For most people, the loss of that information could be devastating.

There are many risks to our data, such as hardware or software malfunctions, natural disasters and emergencies—floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, house fires, and theft. But viruses, spyware, and cyber attacks are also externally launched events that can lead to data loss and can either destroy your computer or render it useless.

It’s not only big events that cause a data loss. Important files can be lost by accidental deletion as well.

Protect yourself against data loss by making electronic copies of important files, commonly referred to as a backup. Data backup is a simple, three step process:

  1. Make copies of the data on your computer(s)
  2. Select the appropriate hardware to store the backup data
  3. Safely store the backup device that holds your copied files

Read on for further details on each of the steps.

1) Make copies of your data:

There are several software tools you can use to backup your computer. First, check to see if your computer already has backup software program installed; many programs do.

Most backup software tools will allow you to make copies of either everything on your computer (files and computer programs) or just the files you’ve changed since the last time you conducted a backup (thus you will always have copies of the most up-to-date versions of your files). For more information, see How to decide what data to back up.

Below are links to backup utilities in popular operating systems:

Windows XP:



Other software programs are available for purchase if your system does not have a backup program or you’re seeking other features.

Ideally, you should backup your files at least once a week. In some instances you might want to do an immediate backup, such as after you download 1000 family photos from the trip of a lifetime or invest time in digitally archiving your music collection.

2) Select the hardware to store your data

When you conduct a backup, the files will have to be stored on some kind of memory device—external hard drive, CD’s, DVD’s or USB flash drives (sometimes called thumb drives because of their size).

The option best for you depends on several factors, but the most important question to answer is: How much data do you have to backup?

If you don’t store much in the way of music, photos, videos, or other large files and mostly use your system for surfing the web and the occasional document, try using CDs, DVDs (if your computer has a CD or DVD drive that can “write” to that media), or a USB flash drive.

If your computer serves as the family photo and video album as well as your music library, the best bet is to get an external hard drive that plugs into your computer (preferably via a USB port).  This way you can assure more adequate storage space for all your files. Copying information will also be faster with these devices. Like most computer hardware, the prices of these devices have been dropping over the years, and become more affordable all the time. When viewed as the cost of insurance to protect you memories, music, and vital information, they seem inexpensive compared to the value of the loss.

If you don’t want to hassle with new hardware, there are online backup services available, usually for a monthly fee. You simply backup your files to a secure server over the InternetG. These services have the added advantage of safely storing your files in a remote location (see below) and the files can be accessed anywhere you have a connection to the Internet and they will also be backed up at the remote location by the service provider. Please check to ensure the backup site you choose is a secured one. See How to recognize spoofed Web sites for more information on verifying secure sites.

3) Safely store the backup device that holds your copied files

Now that you have set up the software and started copying your files on a regular basis, you need to make sure you do the last important step: Keep the files on your backup device somewhere safe. The most secure practice is to keep your backed up data offsite. That way, should the unthinkable happen—house fire, natural disaster, or theft—you can recover your valuable files quickly. If you use an online backup service, you’ve already accomplished this goal.

Keep your backup device close enough so you can retrieve it quickly and easily when you do your REGULAR backup. Some ideas include:

  • A trusted neighbor (you store your device at their house and they store theirs at yours).
  • A nearby family member or friend.
  • Your workplace, if it can be locked up, doesn’t violate workplace policies or the law.

If offsite won’t work for you, find a secure place in your home that would likely survive any natural disasters. For example, if floodingG is a concern, keep the device somewhere above the worst possible flood threatG. You may also want to consider keeping your backup in a bolted and/or fireproof box. For more information, see Tips for protecting your backup files.

May 15, 2010 Posted by | Business, Personal, Privacy, Security | Leave a comment


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