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Technical Stuff and Things

"I want to tell you a Story"

The Internet is like a great big Game reserve where predators and prey normally live quite peacefully side by side until...that is..... when hunger strikes!! and then it can become a feeding frenzy.

On the Internet there are many ways to track and monitor Internet users and like the Lions stalking their unsuspecting casually grazing Springbok prey on the Serengeti every now and then someone gets eaten. So whenever we access the Internet we can chose either to be the prey or the predator. Normally the vast majority of Internet users like ourselves are innocently going about their online daily business and like the casually grazing Springbok, we must always be ever vigilant with one eye open for a potential attack.

Data is the food that drives the internet and it is what we all seek and constantly consume whether we are the Lion or the Springbok. Knowledge is power and can be our best defense which can also be the difference between secure information and or stolen/corrupted data.This is why it is very important to stay informed so that you can protect yourself and your data. So being aware of the potential dangers of the Internet can save you lots of time, money and sleepless nights.

I would therefore advise that you take a few moments to educate yourself about personal internet security so that hopefully you will be less likely to become a Springbok steak.

As the adage goes "fore-warned is fore-armed"

Keeping your information as secure as possible

To ensure that you do not become one of the Springboks in the Serengeti of the Internet. Please ensure that you do the following things:.

  1. Whenever you have a device that is connected to the Internet always ensure that it is running a current and updated version of Antivirus and Firewall agents.
  2. Never attempt to access the Internet if your machine does not have an active up to date Antivirus Agent running and a Firewall Program. This is plain gambling with your data and personal information and would only be a matter of time before you attract the unobserved attentions of a Lion to feast on your data and information.There are many very good Free and paid Antivirus and Firewall products out there each each with their unique flavors and levels of protections i.e. AVG, Avast Internet Security.
  3. Always ensure that your Internet Browser has the latest security and Java updates applied.
  4. Always refrain from using a strange or unfamiliar computer or mobile device that you do not own or regularly use to login to your secure services such as Email, social Media, Banking or shopping websites and if you have to do so you must always ensure that you fully logout from the session afterwards. Close the browser and Shutdown or Restart the computer to prevent anybody else after you obtaining your browsing information.
  5. Develop a regular security routine and try not to deviate from it.

Getting to grips with all this "Techno babble"

Even as a "Techie" understanding the Internet can be very daunting, especially with all these new Tech speak being "banded around" We often say nothing even if we don't know for fear of being a dinosaur.

So I have decided to take a few minutes out to try and unlock some of these techno-phobic terms to make it easier for you to understand. Data is information and in the computing world especially the Internet, information is power....or "food"....whatever analogy you would like to use.

On the Internet information is either being sent or gathered with every keystroke that we make and this information can be used to build a picture and story about each and everyone of us such as: Who you are...Where you come from.....What you like......Where you shop....etc. That being said this brings us to the crux of this section. How, Who and Why is this data being gathered, often without us knowing about it.

I would also recommend if possible not to save your website passwords in your browser. If a hacker gains access to your computer he can effectively gain access to your browser sites saved passwords as well.

However, if like most of us you have a terrible memory and you need to do this, then there is a way on most browsers to assign a master password in the security settings to prevent anyone accessing your saved sites passwords automatically. I would suggest you google browser security master password as each browser has different steps on how to do this.

IP Addresses

The most basic way of identifying anyone or anything on the Internet or any network is by our IP address an IP addresses is essential for communication and every computer, phone, printer or network connected piece of equipment needs to have a unique one to be able to send and receive data. You can say it's like the door number part of your postal address. This address has to be unique but it can be hijacked and copied by hackers to hide their tracks.

These days, it’s likely that your computer shares a group of IP addresses with other networked devices in your house or office using your Router that acts like Postal Mailbox sending that out to the rest of the Internet world. It is from your IP address and combined with other techniques websites are able to determine your rough geographical location. Fortunately not yet down to your actual street, but generally your city or general area.

Have you ever seen a Ad that looks so sincere and genuine by including your location in the reply? Well this is how they do that....It is not magic.

Cookies and Web tracking

Unfortunately this is not the tasty little treats that most of us like to tuck into with a nice glass of milk just before bedtime...I know I mentioned data is like food..well.... it is definitely true in this case as Cookies are a whimsical name used by websites to store small pieces of information as text files, about you which is stored in your browser.

They are normally very harmless or just annoying as they behave like talkative little "busybodies" that's sole intention is to share your information with everyone...in this case every website you visit. For example, when you sign into your online-banking website, a cookie remembers your login information. When you change a setting on a website, a cookie stores that setting so it can persist across page loads and sessions.

While cookies can have legitimate uses, they can harbor a dark side as they are often used by advertising networks to track your access across multiple websites. Most websites include third-party advertising or tracking scripts. If two different websites use the same advertising or tracking network, your browsing history across both sites could be tracked and linked.

Scripts from social networks can also function as tracking scripts. For example, if you are signed into Facebook and you visit a website that contains a Facebook “Like” button, Facebook knows that you visited that website. Facebook then stores the cookie to save your login state.Therefore just like the Like button which is actually part of a script, it also knows who you are.

You can clear your browser’s cookies by going into the options settings of most browsers selecting security and following the prompts to clear your cached and cookie information. However, clearing your cookies isn’t necessarily a overall solution – “super cookies” are increasingly common.

Super Cookies

A super cookie is a type of browser cookie that is designed to be permanently stored on a user’s computer. Super cookies are generally more difficult for users to detect and remove from their devices because they cannot be deleted in the same fashion as regular cookies.

Super cookies serve the same function as regular cookies in that they can contain just about any information including browsing history authentication details or ad-targeting data. There are many super cookie solutions like evercookie which use JavaScripts to store cookie data in multiple places for example in Flash cookies, Silverlight storage, your browsing history, and HTML5 local storage.

One particularly clever tracking method is assigning a unique color value to a few pixels every time a new user visits a website. The different colors are stored in each user’s browser cache and can be loaded back – the color value of the pixels is a unique identifier that identifies the user.

When a website notices that you’ve deleted part of the super cookie, the information is repopulated from the other location. For example, you might clear your browser cookies and not your Flash cookies, so the website will copy the value of the Flash cookie to your browser cookies. Super cookies are very resilient and difficult to get ride of.

HTTP Referrer

When you click a link, your browser loads the web page you clicked on and tells the website where you came from. For example, if you clicked a link to an outside website on Wotzcha.com the outside website would see the address of the website you came from. This information is contained in the HTTP referrer header.

Website monitoring software are written to innocently take advantage of this information to monitor access to sites and gather statistics. Which can be used for marketing or load balancing website servers.

The HTTP referrer is also sent when loading content on a web page. For example, if a web page includes an ad or tracking script, your browsers tells the advertiser or tracking network what page you’re viewing. “Web bugs,” which are tiny, one-by-one pixel, invisible images, take advantage of the HTTP referrer to track you without appearing on a web page. They’re also used to track emails you open, assuming your email client loads images.

User Agents

User Agents are another method used by your browser to provide your browser and operating system information every time you connect to a website. Therefore providing another piece of data that can be stored and used to target ads to you.

Browsers Fingerprinting

Browsers are actually pretty unique they can "spill the beans" revealing everything about us to Websites who can determine your operating system, browser version, installed plug-ins and their versions, your screen resolution, your installed fonts, your time zone, and a whole host of other information. If you’ve disabled cookies entirely, that’s another piece of data that makes your browser unique. For information on securing your browser to increase your privacy settings and determining what exactly each setting does. I would recommend the following site https://vikingvpn.com/cybersecurity-wiki/browser-security/guide-hardening-mozilla-firefox-for-privacy-and-security

Hope this information has been of some help in attempting to demystify some of the common terms and Techo babble being banded around the Internet world and hopefully help to keep you a little more alert and safe.

As I remember more useful snippets of technical information I will add them to this page.

"Happy Grazing...Ummm...I mean Browsing"