Internet Security

Why yes. Yes I am a nerd!

love computers, smartphones, really anything with a microprocessor in it. I jumped into computers the very moment you could buy one—and I used to write shareware ($5.00, please!). So, it probably will come as no surprise to anyone that I totally dig doing the website thing!

I’ve applied my somewhat extensive digital knowledge to the security and protection of this site and to its visitors.

Now, no one can promise you are safe from malware whenever you use a computer or smartphone but, you can do your best to make sure that you aren’t the reason for falling prey to hacking, viruses, trojans, worms, hijackers and sundry other attacks.

Unbelievable!

Want to see—in real time—website attacks going on around the world? Check out the Norse Attack Map. Be sure you’re sitting down when you look at this; it’s stunning the amount of cyber attacks going on at any given moment!

Never click on links that, when you hover your mouse or finger over them, show that the link is for anything but a .txt, .jpg, .png or .wav file. The most susceptible files to hidden malware are: .exe, .msi, .com, .dll, .reg, .bat, .cab, .zip, .rar, .sys, .ini, .apk and document files (.doc, .docx, .pdf, .xls). Once exempt from this list, hackers have now discovered how to corrupt .mp3 and other media files so, be careful of those, too, if you don’t know from whence they come! 

Never install updates to software when prompted by a website you are visiting! If a site tells you that your java or flash is “out of date,” go to java.com or adobe.com to get updates directly from the writers of those softwares.

Widespread Web Hacks

The perpetrators of online mayhem are extensive: everything from organized crime down to bright teenagers flexing a little brainpower “just to see” if they can do a little damage and make their mark—especially if they can get a listing of their digital dalliances on anti-virus monitors such as McAfee, Kaspersky, Sucuri and other security vendors.

Although it would be incredibly silly for me to tell you what kind of firewalls I am using on TheMinivanExplorer.com, I would like you to know I have several protections installed that not only monitor and protect this site twenty four hours a day but, you the user, as well.

Daily maintenance.

And, being the geek that I am, I check every day on that software and the people or “bots” that attempt to gain unauthorized access (they are permanently blocked, no matter who or where they are).

If you didn’t know, you should know that every website you visit can see your IP address—yours is 54.198.2.110—your Operating System, your browser type and version, the pages you visit (and for how long you were there), from where you arrived and where you went when you left—among other technical details (your Java and Flash capabilities, for example, or if you are using Ad Blocker software).

Should you arrive at a website by using Google, Bing or other search engine, websites also know the search terms you typed in to find them. Everything is linked and everything is shared. Your browser’s request for a website’s data—text, photos, video, audio—simply wouldn’t work unless this kind of information was available for exchange!

Another layer hiding in the background.

The way the internet works has other things going on behind the scenes, too. Take going to CNN, the news site: you type “cnn.com” into the browser’s URL box (Uniform Resource Locator).

What really happens then is, your browser—in the background and lightning quick, too—contacts the Domain Name System computer servers (DNS) specified in your browser settings and makes an inquiry as to the physical server address hosting the CNN website.

Ohh, “cnn.com” is found at the IP address,151.101.0.73” …says the DNS—and wham! You wind up where you’re supposed to be, just like you’re supposed to. Any digital device that connects to another device has an IP address. It’s the “phone number” of that device so each knows where to send the requested data.

If you’ve heard the term “browser hijack” it is, most likely, the DNS settings that have been compromised.

Do it now!

Running an anti-virus program on your computer and your smartphone gives you a basic level of protection from infection. I recommend Avast for both your computer and your phone. Avast is a major supplier of this type of software, it uses few resources (memory), updates automatically and it’s free!

My only admonition to you is, don’t run more than one anti-virus application at a time; they will interfere with each other, miss potential problems in the confusion—and slow you down to a crawl!

The same boat.

We’re all in the same boat—and there are some people out there that have nothing better to do than to mess with the rest of us. And don’t let anyone tell you that the Russians aren’t, at this very moment, waging a cyber war on the United States—many times through proxies, such as servers in Ukraine.

This very website, along with every other site, is regularly and repeatedly being attacked—even though it’s just a friggin’ blog, with no advertising or financial information or even passwords (other than mine!).

So far, I’ve been successful in fighting them—and other former Soviet Block countries—off.

Every. Single. Day.

Can’t tell you how I do it (I know you’ll understand). But, I use the latest tools and the most up-to-date virus definitions to keep ahead of them. I’m accustomed to this job as I have maintained several high-volume websites for many years. They’re not going to stop, either. And neither will I so, stuff it where the sun don’t shine, Vlad!

So, go get that anti-virus installed and don’t be “click happy” with unknown links on websites and emails!

Happy trails my friends!