Updated Safe Gadget Security Tutorials – Security Alerts 2017

The following alerts have been updated to reflect new and important security protection schemes:

3/16/2017: Matthew Green, a well respected cryptographer and professor at Johns Hopkins has a great article discussing Secure Computing – Desktops vs Smartphones, iOS vs Android and more..

3/15/2017: ID Thieves are using the IRS and filing fake tax returns. Remember that the IRS never calls or sends email to you.  They use old fashion US mail.

2/16/2017: Apricorn makes a secure USB flash drives that require a pin code to be entered before they function.  No software or drivers required, so it works with any operating system. Dust and water resistant durable aluminium housing

2/2/2017: Laser Printers are vulnerable to security issues. Popular printer models manufactured by Dell, Brother, Konica, Samsung, HP, and Lexmark are all affected.

2/1/2017: Netgear has updated firmware for many routers that fixes a major security hole.

1/30/2017: Security minded people use VPNs to secure their communications. Many Android VPN clients have privacy and security risks.  Be careful which you use.

12/12/2016: 26 different low cost Android devices on the MTK platform have Trojan horses built in.

Continue reading “Updated Safe Gadget Security Tutorials – Security Alerts 2017”

How to Setup a Secure Wireless Network Router

Updated: 1/7/2017
Linksys wireless router, Linksys router, WRT54G

Security has become an ever more important part of using a personal computer. Increasingly, the daily headlines include news of companies and websites getting hacked. It is important to learn how to properly secure your wireless Internet as well as secure your personal computer.

This article focuses on how to secure your wireless network router so that you do not become part of the statistics. The wireless router typically includes a firewall that defines the perimeter of your network. Think of this as a fence, walling off your network from the Internet. Having a vulnerable wireless network allows criminals to possibly steal your data as well as Internet access. You could also become responsible for illegal downloading if your wireless Internet was compromised.

Federal Trade Commission Makes Asus Improve Router Security

In February 2016, the Federal Trade Commission settled charges with Asus, over critical security flaws in its routers that put the home networks of hundreds of thousands of consumers at risk.

The proposed consent order will require ASUS to establish and maintain a comprehensive security program subject to independent audits for the next 20 years.

Finally!, the government is forcing these manufacturers to fix wireless routers that can be come huge security holes.

Wirless Routers are a big Security Hole

Continue reading “How to Setup a Secure Wireless Network Router”

Free Antivirus, Free Internet Security Software

Last Update: 3/10/2016

Windows 7 Security Software, Security Essentials

Here are some resources for free internet security software from major vendors. Most of the software is free for home users, while businesses need to purchase a license. We divide the free software into different categories including internet security suites, antivirus, antispyware, and intrusion detection and prevention.

Internet Security Software Downside – Spying on You

Any internet security program needs to watch the sites you visit for malicious activity, this includes secure sites (https://)  To watch your secure browsing activity, security suites need to replace the security certificates with their own, performing a man in the middle (MITM) attack essentially.

Hopefully this snooping is all in the name of security, not in stealing your credit card, banking information, or identity. You can read more about Avast.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus is often free after rebate.

1. ISP Provided Free Security Software

Subscribers to certain internet service providers get access to free commercial internet security software. There’s no need to pay a dime for top notch security software.

Continue reading “Free Antivirus, Free Internet Security Software”

How to Create, Store, and Use Secure Passwords

Last Update: 1/28/2017
iPad password entry screen

Passwords are one of the biggest security problems on the Internet, possibly even more so than Malware. Poorly chosen passwords and security questions are making online accounts easily hackable by cyber-criminals.

Everyone knows it’s important to create and use complex passwords, ones that do not include:

  • Words from the dictionary of any language
  • Personal information such as names of your kids, pets, addresses, etc.
  • The same password for more than one site
  • Ones that are written down

Few people follow this type of policy. If you are guilty of one or more of the above, you are at risk of getting hacked. Hackers are able to use brute force attacks to test over 200,000 passwords per hour. As technology improves, they will be able to test passwords even faster. In this article we will help you create, store, and easily use secure passwords.

Secure your computer, web browser, Internet connection

Follow our guides to secure your Windows PC or secure your Macintosh by installing the right software, firewall, antivirus software, etc. Secure your mobile devices: iPhone, Android smartphone or tablet, iPad. Configure the settings and add plug-ins to you web browser so that it is more secure. Consult our tutorials for: Internet Explorer 9, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. Secure your Internet Connection: Wireless Network, Public Wi-Fi.

Better Usernames

We suggest users first start with a non-obvious username. Don’t use your first name or first name + last name as your username throughout your online accounts. Make up a name or alias. Include numbers and/or upper and lowercase letters. Better yet, use a different username on every site. The password managers recommended below will automatically remember all your logins.

Continue reading “How to Create, Store, and Use Secure Passwords”

Recovering from a Malware Infection or Ransomware

Windows Blue Screen Of Death, BSOD

Recovering from a Malware Infection or Malware Disaster is a difficult and time consuming process. This involves running 1 or more anti-malware programs to help eradicate any infections.

How to tell if you are infected

The first step in recovering from an infection is realizing that you are infected in the first place. Below are some telltale signs that you have been infected by malware.

  • Computer Operates Much Slower than Normal
  • Pop-up windows, especially ones selling anti-virus software
  • You are being asked to pay a ransom
  • Computer does not boot or start up
  • Computer starts playing funny sounds
  • Internet speed decrease
  • Internet access even when no program is running

If you have any of the above symptoms, it is time to check your computer for problems. Keep in mind that computers with inadequate amounts of RAM memory may run slower than normal. We recommend at least 2 GB of RAM with Windows Vista or Windows 7.

Checking Your System for Malware

After you have decided to check your system, you should scan your system with up to date anti-virus or anti-malware software.

We suggest you first delete any Temporary Files located on the drive. This will speed up virus scanning and even remove any viruses inside the Temporary Files folder. To delete Temporary Files follow the steps below: Continue reading “Recovering from a Malware Infection or Ransomware”

Secure Google Chrome Browsing

Last Update: 4/14/2016

Google Chrome Browser

Google Chrome is one of the most popular web browser for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This makes it a large target for malware and cybercrime. We will focus on securing Google Chrome, and will significantly increase the browser’s security through add-ins and special hardening settings. We also recommend running under Windows 10 or Windows 7, so if you are running under an older version of Windows, we recommend you to upgrade or buy a new computer. Older versions of Windows like Windows XP were not built with security in mind. Continue reading “Secure Google Chrome Browsing”

How to: Safe Online Banking and Online Trading

Last Update: 7/12/2016

PC, desktop computer

Online banking and online trading have been gaining market share every year. Security breaches make headlines almost daily. With more and more people going online, consumers are worried more than ever about keeping their online banking and online trading safe and secure. In this article, we will help you bank and trade more securely.

Secure your computer, web browser, Internet connection

Follow our guides to secure your Windows PC or secure your Macintosh by installing the right software, firewall, antivirus software, etc. Secure your mobile devices: iPhone, Android smartphone or tablet, iPad. Configure the settings and add plug-ins to you web browser so that it is more secure. Consult our tutorials for: Internet Explorer 9, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. Secure your Internet Connection: Wireless Network, Public Wi-Fi.

1. Configure your wireless router for optimal security. Consult our article How to set up a secure wireless router for details. For maximum security, do your online banking and online trading when connected by a hardwired connection such as Ethernet.

2. Ensure that your operating system is set up securely. Consult our computer security guides for Windows and Macintosh. For maximum security, you could start off a Linux boot CD or USB key.

Burning Linux Live CD to a write only media such as a CD/DVD or a USB drive with Write protect switch, helps prevent any changes to a virgin Linux distribution. Keep in mind that no bookmarks, password managers, etc would be accessible.

The CD versions do take many minutes to boot up and ask you if you want to try Linux, so the USB route is definitely preferred.

Continue reading “How to: Safe Online Banking and Online Trading”

How to use Linux for more Secure Computing

Last Update: 7/12/2016

Ubuntu Linux

Linux is a great operating system to supplement your existing environment. We suggest using it on a bootable piece of media to perform your more important online tasks, such as online trading and online banking.

How to use Linux for secure computing

1. Installing a Clean Linux OS with no modifications, program add-ons, etc, helps prevent keyloggers, spyware, and other malware from being installed. Burning Linux Live CD to a write only media such as a CD/DVD or a Kanguru USB drive with Write protect switch, helps prevent any changes to a virgin Linux distribution. Keep in mind that no bookmarks, password managers, etc would be accessible.

The CD versions do take many minutes to boot up and ask you if you want to try Linux, so the USB route is definitely preferred.

2. Ubuntu Linux is a user-friendly Linux distribution and a good bet for most Linux newbies and novices. Try it on USB drive or burn it to a CD, there is no need to install the operating system on to a hard disk. We recommend you use an LTS or long term support version of Ubuntu so that there is long term stability to your Linux choice. (10.04 LTS is a good choice) The other popular Linux distribution is known as Fedora, it is more data center, server-oriented. If you are reading this, Ubuntu is the way to go.

3. Unetbootin is a useful utility that creates a bootable live USB drive or flash drive from Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, Fedora, etc. It even downloads the Linux distribution automatically.   This program run on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, but the resulting USB drives are bootable only on PCs.

4. Backtrack is a specialized Linux distribution for penetration testing. It is filled with useful tools to test the security of computers and networks. You can use Unetbootin to install it on a USB drive. Backtrack is designed for security experts, it is not easy to learn.

5. Tails is a preconfigured Linux distribution full of security essentials. It includes the Iceweasel browser, which utilizes the Tor network for anonomys browsing. HTTPS Everywhere, Adblock Plus, and NoScript are preloaded, to increase security and block ads.

Continue reading “How to use Linux for more Secure Computing”

Free Software for Internet Security, Computer Protection on Windows Computers

Last Update: 4/24/2016

Optional Software from Microsoft and Other Third Party Developers is a crucial part of adding computer security to your Windows based PC. We recommend a minimal set of crucial network security software add-ons that we feel all users should install. Here are several extremely useful free security oriented software utilities from Microsoft, that are not bundled with the operating system. These programs add additional security for Windows and are free to download.

Before you make any changes to your system, always back it up.

Google Docs can replace Microsoft Word and Excel. Doing so helps prevent many of the security holes in Microsoft Office including Flash based bugs.

Windows 7 Security Software Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft Security Essentials – Free anti-virus software from Microsoft that is a no-brainer for everyone. Microsoft Security Essentials can also be used by small business on up to 10 PCs! It includes automatic updates and is easy to use.

Windows 7 Security Software Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer

Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer – Scans your system for security problems, missing or obsolete Windows components and patches. This is oriented towards small and medium sized businesses but can also be used by consumers.

Continue reading “Free Software for Internet Security, Computer Protection on Windows Computers”

Welcome to Safegadget.com

Welcome to Safegadget.com, the one-stop website for securing your computer and gadgets. Don’t wait until you have become a victim of malware. While it is impossible to prevent all attacks, it is important that we all secure our systems so we aren’t easily hacked. This is akin to wearing a seat belt to prevent an accident.

We feature many different security tutorials.

Harden the Security of your Browser

Boost the Security of your Smartphones and Tablets

Learn how to perform the following Safely and Securely
Continue reading “Welcome to Safegadget.com”

How to International Travel and Maintaining Computer Security Tips

Apple iPhone 3GS

The International Travel Security Problem

Many of us travel internationally but few realize how important computer security can be when we visit other countries. People doing business in countries like China and Russia (or any other country for that matter) need to pay strict attention to their technology security protocols to prevent the real and growing threat of high tech espionage. There have been instances of people returning from abroad and having their laptops or smartphones compromised. A mobile device used internationally and later hooked up to the Company’s network provides an excellent infection vector. The folks intent on stealing information could be government or corporate based.

Learn how to use your iPhone or Android Smartphone in China

How to Protect Yourself When Traveling

Some people might find the following list a bit paranoid, but you never can be too safe. People that work for major corporations, government, or security firms need maximum protection from attackers. There are tools that can detect the location of a mobile device to within 100 feet and can target phones by the phone number, IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number and intercept all communications from the mobile device.

  • Leave your cell phone and laptop at home
  • Buy a phone and SIM card in the other country
  • Beware of any SMS message especially if they have links
  • Do not bring any sensitive data or passwords
  • Use temporary or loaner cell phones and laptops which will be erased when you get home
  • Make sure all gadgets are fully up to date and have security software enabled. The best encryption should be utilized
  • Never let your electronics out of your site
  • If your device gets inspected at the border, it should never be connected to the Company’s network again
  • Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi altogether
  • Do not use a public phone charging cable, it could be capturing video while you charge
  • Disable microphones and cameras
  • During meetings, turn off your devices and remove their batteries. (Prevents possible recording)
  • Use a VPN with heavy encryption to connect to the Internet
  • Use Google Voice to create a “throw away” voice accounts
  • Do not connect to your Company’s or government’s network while abroad
  • Use coded language when discussing sensitive matters
  • Cut and paste passwords to prevent keylogging
  • Change any and all passwords you used on the trip, immediately
  • Enable two factor authentication for services that support this; Facebook, Gmail, eBay, etc.

Continue reading “How to International Travel and Maintaining Computer Security Tips”

Secure Firefox Browsing

Last Updated: 4/14/2016

firefox browser

Firefox is one of the most popular web browser for Windows and other platforms. This makes it a large target for malware and cybercrime. We will focus on securing Firefox, and will significantly increase the browser’s security through add-ins and special hardening settings. We are avoiding earlier versions of Firefox and recommend users to upgrade to the latest version of Firefox. We also recommend running under Windows 7, 8 or 10, so if you are running under an older version of Windows, we recommend you to upgrade or buy a new computer. Older versions of Windows like Windows XP were not built with security in mind.

Secure your computer, web browser, Internet connection

Follow our guides to secure your Windows PC or secure your Macintosh by installing the right software, firewall, antivirus software, etc. Secure your mobile devices: iPhone, Android smartphone or tablet, iPad. Configure the settings and add plug-ins to you web browser so that it is more secure. Consult our tutorials for: Internet Explorer 9, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. Secure your Internet Connection: Wireless Network, Public Wi-Fi.

We recommend booting from a Linux CD or USB key when performing mission critical applications such as online banking, online trading, or online shopping.

Firefox includes the following security oriented features:

  • Instant Web ID
  • Do not Track
  • Private Browsing
  • Clear Recent History
  • Customized Security Setting

The Golden rules of the Internet: Continue reading “Secure Firefox Browsing”

Major Wireless Network Security Breach – Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS Bug) PIN Brute Force Vulnerability – Reaver

Linksys wireless router, Linksys router, WRT54G

Updated January 2014 to cover a new TCP 32764 Wireless router Vulnerability.

A major security hole known as WiFi Protected Setup (WPS Bug) PIN brute force vulnerability (US-CERT VU#723755) has been recently found in virtually all modern Wireless Routers used in the home, resulting in a vulnerability that allows hackers to extract your WPA wireless security password in a matter of hours. Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) is a protocol that allows users to press a button on their Wireless Router and connect to their computers without typing in a long cryptic password. A hole in this protocol has been recently found and exploited, allowing hackers easy access to cracking most wireless networks.

Why is this a major security problem?

  • Virtually all wireless routers have this problem
  • Many wireless routers (Qwest Actiontec, etc) use the same unchangeable PIN 12345670, hackable in seconds
  • WPS is turn on by default to get certified by Wi-Fi Alliance
  • Wireless routers do not automatically update their software to get a fix
  • The number of PIN codes to test is only 11,000 instead of 100 million
  • Attack software is available

The biggest issue is that virtually all wireless routers sold in the last 4 of years are hackable. The manufacturers need to update their firmware for these devices in order to fix the security breach. Virtually all wireless routers do not automatically update their firmware. As of January 16th, 2012, no manufacturers have issued updates, leaving millions of wireless networks vulnerable. Adding insult to injury, options to disable Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) have been found to not do anything.

Why is getting your wireless password bad?

There are many reasons why you do not want your wireless password hacked.

  • Others could use your Internet Connection Freely
  • Spam or other illegal activities could be sent
  • Everything you do on your network could be captured and read
  • Your online banking and trading would no longer be secure

Continue reading “Major Wireless Network Security Breach – Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS Bug) PIN Brute Force Vulnerability – Reaver”

NSA PRISM Program – How to Protect Your Privacy

Last updated: 11/7/2015

In June 2013, Edward Snowden revealed to the world that the US Government was spying on Internet traffic and other communication networks. The Government’s PRISM program run by the highly secretive NSA conducted all this work in an effort to prevent terrorism and crime.

The NSA apparently has direct connections through major Internet service providers such AT&T, Comcast, Verizon to copy all traffic passing through and can save it to its huge multi-billion dollar data warehouse in Utah. This has been going on for years and thanks to organizations like the EFF, we have learned about these invasions of privacy. The Government has stated it is using this information mainly on foreigners, but is the FBI using this data domestically?

The UK’s GCHQ is apparently doing the same type of snooping and even sharing information with the NSA.

The Government can see all your Facebook posts, read your email, see who you have called, among other privacy invading tasks.

Other services that are being watched: AOL, Apple, Skype, Microsoft, Paltalk, Yahoo, Youtube.

Specific areas:

  • Email
  • Chat- Video
  • voice
  • Videos
  • Photos
  • Stored Data
  • VOIP
  • File transfers
  • Video conferencing
  • logins
  • online social networking

Continue reading “NSA PRISM Program – How to Protect Your Privacy”

Updated Safe Gadget Internet Security Tutorials – Security Alerts 2013

The following articles have been updated in 2013 to reflect new and important security protection schemes:

6/17/2013: Microsoft Azure, Linkedin, Twitter, Evernote have now added 2 factor authentication. Be sure to take advantage of this.

4/15/2013: ID Thieves are using the IRS and filing fake tax returns. Remember that the IRS never calls or sends email to you.  They use old fashion US mail.

3/24/2013: Vudu got hacked. Again, if you use the same password elsewhere, change it. Each site’s login password should be unique, so if one site gets hacked, hackers won’t be able to access all your other accounts.

3/21/2013: Apple introduced two-step verification for Apple IDs.  You need 2 forms of proof to access Apple. Please turn this on right away.

3/4/2013: Evernote got hacked and reset everyone’s password. Again, if you use the same password elsewhere, change it. Each site’s login password should be unique, so if one site gets hacked, hackers won’t be able to access all your other accounts.

3/1/2013: Mobile payments systems lead to privacy issues and major concerns. The systems are becoming more sophisticated with the ability to collect more information about the user transactions and shared with more people.

3/1/2013: Determine if a website is safe or not before visiting it with sites like:

Continue reading “Updated Safe Gadget Internet Security Tutorials – Security Alerts 2013”

iPad Security, How to securely use your iPad

Apple iPad, tablet computer

Most iPad users do not think very much about security. The iPad is part of Apple’s closed ecosystem, helping to prevent viruses and malware from wreaking havoc. As the iPad has grown in popularity, the tablet has become more of a target by hackers and criminals. It is important that iPad users immediately become more vigilant about tablet security. Our tutorial covers the iPad, and iPad 2.

1. iPad Software Updates

Apple upgrades the iOS software for the iPad from time to time. Updates include additional functionality as well as security bug fixes. It is important that users apply updates immediately. Before iOS 5 users needed to connect their iPads to a computer in order to update the tablet’s software. Needless to say, this was inconvenient and led to many iPads with obsolete software.

iOS 5 allows updates to occur without the iPad being connected to a computer, allowing users to stay current far easier. We recommend all owners of the iPad and the iPad 2, upgrade to iOS 5 immediately. iOS 5 in fact includes many security fixes.

If you Jailbreak your iPad, you need to be extra careful with regards to security as iOS updates are much more difficult for you. Be careful where you obtain your Jailbroken Apps as malware is much more prevalent.

2. iPad App Security

Apple’s App Store reviews all submissions before adding them. All iPad apps must be authenticated and signed which helps to ensure they haven’t been tampered with or altered. This helps prevent malicious apps from infecting the App Store. Apps are prone to security vulnerabilities, that are fixed by updates. Keep apps updated regularly and remove apps that you do not use. Regularly use the App Store app and select Updates. iOS 7 adds the capability to auto update your apps. Be sure to use this function. Apple has the ability to remotely remove malicious apps from your iPad.

Continue reading “iPad Security, How to securely use your iPad”

Secure Internet Explorer 9 Browsing

Last update: 4/14/2016

Internet Explorer 9 IE9

Internet Explorer remains the most popular web browser for Windows. This makes it a large target for malware and cybercrime. We will focus on securing Internet Explorer 9, and will significantly increase the browser’s security through add-ins and special hardening settings. We are avoiding earlier versions of Internet Explorer and recommend users to upgrade to Internet Explorer 9. It requires Windows Vista or Windows 7 to operate, so if you are running under an older version of Windows, we recommend you to upgrade or buy a new computer. Older versions of Windows like Windows XP were not built with security in mind.

Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET)

Internet Explorer users should definitely install Microsoft’s free Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit. It helps beefup IE’s security. It even prevented the major Zero Day IE vulnerability of April 2014.

Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10

In 2012 is a new version of Windows and a new Internet Explorer promising tighter security. ForceASLR will be added, making more applications use the randomization code protection of ASLR. High Entropy ASLR will be added to take advantage of the larger memory address space of 64-bit Windows 8 PCs.

Secure your computer, web browser, Internet connection

Follow our guides to secure your Windows PC or secure your Macintosh by installing the right software, firewall, antivirus software, etc. Secure your mobile devices: iPhone, Android smartphone or tablet, iPad. Configure the settings and add plug-ins to you web browser so that it is more secure. Consult our tutorials for: Internet Explorer 9, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. Secure your Internet Connection: Wireless Network, Public Wi-Fi.

Continue reading “Secure Internet Explorer 9 Browsing”

Windows Internet Security Software Sale

No need to pay much or even anything for a brand new Internet security suite for Windows. We try to buy software only when it is free! For a limited time only, Leading Windows Internet Security Software are on sale at excellent prices:

Newegg.com has several security software suites for Free after rebate. Check their security software page for the current promotion. We have seen the Free Internet security software suite offer change every couple days. AVG, Panda, McAfee, Symantec, and BitDefender take turns offering a Free security software deal. Shipping is also Free.

Current Promo:

McAfee Internet Security 2012 – 3 PCs – Free after rebate Expires 5/2/2012

Internet for Kids – Parental Controls

The Internet is a scary place for kids and a constant worry for their parents. Inappropriate content, predators, and malware lurk around every corner. It is critical that we teach our kids how to use the Internet safely as well as equip our computers with necessary safeguards. First we will cover some foundational security information, then we will delve into tools and settings to help secure the Internet for kids.

Consumers Union found that households containing people under 18 had a larger propensity to being infected with malware. The following situations can easily occur:

  • A child might post on Facebook that the family is going on vacation
  • Children download apps without understanding the hazards or reading the reviews
  • Younger kids may click on links within email, without thinking about the risks
  • Not downloading copyrighted material needs to be taught to minors
  • Popup warnings from security software are usually ignored

Educating Your Kids

The most important element in creating a safe place for your kids to use the Internet is Education. No piece of software or hardware can replace teaching your kids right from wrong, and candidly discussing all the bad topics that can be found on the Internet.

Some topics parents should cover:

  • Do not reveal your passwords
  • Use social networking safely
  • Do not reveal too much personal information
  • Beware of online fraud

Continue reading “Internet for Kids – Parental Controls”