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Thread: How do you completely (or think you completely) cover your tracks on your compute, and secure your systemr?

  1. #1

    Default How do you completely (or think you completely) cover your tracks on your compute, and secure your systemr?

    I posted this in a group I believe, but I am sure it can't hurt to have it in a section that has a higher amount of views, along with adding more details. I may make this into a tutorial with images on how to change these settings if requested, but we will see how things go, and if it is requested.

    Browser Usage:

    I use the private browsing feature in Firefox for two reasons, 1) if something happens or I have to shut it down, Firefox wont come up with the "restore previous session" window, which may be clicked by someone when borrowing my computer, or while i step away from it. Some reccomendations for Add-ons that I feel are very helpful are Ad Block Plus (ABP), and for more advanced users, who would like to have full control over which scipts are running, NoScript. Both of the Add-ons mentioned are available from Mozilla.

    Preparation Prior to Scans

    Before running any scans I use CCleaner with CCEnhancer, which clears things that aren't normally cleared by using the private browsing or clearing your history, such as Flash Cookies from adobe flash player, old temporary files (system and otherwise), old log files, and unneeded files from hundreds of other programs and applications.

    Anti-Virus:
    I use Avast free anti-virus, which i just prefer to use over AVG due to getting used to the GUI. When I run a scan, I use a custom scan, with it set to scan all files, regardless of extension or content, high heuristics sensitivity, testing whole files, scan for PUPs, and follow links during the scan, extract all packers while scanning, with the scan priority set to high (because who wants to sit there waiting during a scan?).

    Anti-Malware:

    under this category, I have multiple programs which i will list, and describe advantages in each.
    (links for this section will be in the beginning of each paragraph)N

    Ad-Aware:

    After running Avast, I update and scan with this program (see link above). The settings are pretty basic, and I just set it to a high sensitivity scan. The only feature about this program is it takes about five minutes to download updates (for me atleast), but it is a great scanner, as it scans for many types of infections, instead of using many different dedicated scanners.


    Spybot S&D:
    Spybot S&D is good for spyware, but not too much more, although it is great at finding things that other scanners (such as Ad-Aware) may have missed, which is why I run it after the two previously mentioned applications. I set the priority to high, but you may wish to set it to time critical (which is the fastest) with high sensitivity. There is one annoyance, and one downfall to this application however; If you have Ad-Aware installed, when starting Spybot it will give you a message saying the two may interfere with each other, so I just clikc the ignore button, and I have yet to have a conflict with these two programs after more than three years of use. The downfall however could give you problems, or it might not have any effect what so ever, so you may choose to un-check the check-box next to the "Tea Timer" feature while installing the Spybot.

    Malwarebytes:

    This application is a great all around tool, for detecting anything from worms, trojans, rootkits, rogues, dialers, spyware and more. I had stumbled upon it after the above scanners didn't find an obscure set of infections, and it has worked great, and the reason I use it this far down in the list is due to the fact that I run it last, no particular reason other than habit. Again, as you can probably tell, I set it to highest sensitivity, and highest priority.

    HouseCall:
    After all those scans are ran, I download HouseCall from Trend Micro, and run the scan. It is a very basic scanner, but I never really expect to find anything at this point, and expect all the other scanners have picked all this up, but it can't hurt right?

    HijackThis:
    HijackThis (commonly referred to as HJT), is a very powerful tool which analyzes your system, but at the same time is a very dangerous tool if you do not know what you are doing. It is common practice for users, from novice, to advanced, or even system administrators to consult the forums on what the scan has turned up. There are many, many forums that you can post your HJT log to, but the one i have used many times when i was stumped or just unsure in general is Bleeping Computer. Different forums have different rules and ways of posting your logs, but on Bleeping Computer, the procedure is to create an account (free and takes only a minute or two), and click here, Create a new thread titled HijackThis Log, followed by a message to the effect of "could you please tell me which entries i should remove" or whatever your specific question is, and paste your log file.
    How to save a log file:
    To save a log file in HJT, open it up, and click the "Do a system scan and save a log file" button, wait for it to finish scanning, and it will open a notepad window, or other text editor window, so just do File--> Save As--> and choose a location (such as your desktop) and label it something like HJT log. Now if you use the above link to Bleeping Computer, than you just create a new thread as instructed above, and copy and paste the text from the log.
    Firewalls:
    For people who just do genral day to day things, and don't feel the need for more adjustable security measures, Windows Firewall (enabled by default) is adequate, but for some it is desired to have more options, or just more control in general.

    Comodo Firewall:

    I use Comodo Firewall, for the features such as the "Sand Box", which isolates applications so they can't do harm to your system (or reduce the ability to impact important settings or files) until you either click a button saying it is a legitimate program, or keep it isolated. Some of the downfalls of Comodo Firewall are the frequency of notifications asking for user input; what i mean by this is asking you to allow or deny an application or service from connecting to your computer, or connecting to the internet. This firewall is better for moderate users to advanced users, but a person who is not as experinced could still use it, but it just may be a little confusing or overwhelming with all the requests for permission to access. I am not sure of a good firewall for beginners, so feel free to make a post in this thread with a good beginners firewall, or even your favorite firewall, no matter how advanced, and a few pros and cons about it. the help is appreciated.

    Note: When installing Comodo Firewall, make sure you have disabled Windows Firewall, if it has not been done yet. Click here for a step-by-step guide to doing disabling it.

    Speeding up your system:

    Disk Defragmenter:

    After doing all this and cleaning out your computer, it may speed it up a bit to run Disk Defragmenter. To do this click Start-->My Computer-->right click on the C drive (or whichever drive you want to defragment)-->click Properties on the drop down menu that appears--> click the Tools tab at the top of the window that appears-->Click the Defragment Now button.

    Check Disk (chkdsk):


    On Windows XP:

    1) Click start-->run, or press and hold the windows logo key (bottom left of keyboard with flag like logo) and the "R" key, and release both
    2)type cmd.exe
    3)type chkdsk C: /r/f/x
    4) If a message saying that it needs to run the scan the next time you reboot, type "Y" and press enter.

    On Windows Vista/Windows 7:

    1) Click start-->run, or press and hold the windows logo key (bottom left of keyboard with flag like logo) and the "R" key, and release both
    2)type cmd.exe
    3)type chkdsk C: /r/f/x/b
    4) If a message saying that it needs to run the scan the next time you reboot, type "Y" and press enter.

    (certain switches are redundant, which doesn't matter, it can't hurt, so why not be sure it is done)

    Using SSL:
    There are many different ways one can go about setting up SSL, some simpler, yet some complicated.

    TOR:
    TOR is a free program, which tunnels your connection through multiple secured nodes, and helps to keep your internet browsing private, but the only downfall of TOR would be its slow speed, so pages take a while longer to load. Click here for more information on how TOR works.

    SSL Server:
    I just use TOR at the moment, after having my hard drive crash and having to reinstall windows, and I don't know of any good links for setting one up, but you should be able to find them on google. if anyone knows of a good link, just make a post, and once again, your help is appreciated.

    Encryption and sensitive data storage:


    Truecrypt:
    As Hal0ispwnd mentioned, Truecrypt is a great and powerful tool for encrypting documents, of any and all types and sizes.
    I haven't used it in a while, but when i used it more regularly i used the .part extension, and you could play dumb, or just say oh must have been a failed download to explain away a Truecrypt volume.
    Basic how to: Creating a new volume
    1) If you do not have a Truecrypt volume, go open Truecrypt, and click the "Create Volume button
    2)Personally, I have never used the hidden volume, so for this basic primer, just select the "Standard Volume" option if it is not already selected
    3) choose a place to store it and a name for it. you may want to make it on the desktop and call it Game.part, so it will be easy to claim it was a failed download, or maybe nested in a few sub directories like C:\Windows\system32\Game.part for example, and type that in the box, or click "select file" and find a directory (such as my documents or desktop, or any other folder) and type a name in the filename box.
    4) Select an encryption algorithim, and hash algorithm. I normally use the AES-Twofish-Serpent encryption algorithm, and leave the Hash algorithm default.
    5)Choose a size. If you know what you are storing on there, put them all in a folder, and see how big it is. Now you can make the volume size a bit bigger to have some free space to add stuff, or you could guess at the size you need. A good way to visualize it is a CD can hold 750 MB and a DVD can hold 4.7 GB.
    6) Choose a password. This is pretty self explanatory. You could use an overkill password like mine, consisting of letters, numbers, upper and lowercase letter mix, and random numbers and letters mixed in that order, but make sure it is memorized; a decent password doesnt necessarily have to be long. if you have a password, consisting of atleast 8 characters, at least one upper and one lower case letter, one number, and maybe even a special character (any of the symbols on the keyboard above the numbers such as [email protected]#$%^&*), in a random order, or longer. In most cases, if someone wants the password that bad, and knows it is a encrypted volume, you are in much deeper trouble than most people would problably be in.
    7) choose whether or not to use a keyfile. a keyfile is a file that you need to specify when mounting the volume, and without that keyfile, you can not decrypt that volume, regardless of whether you have root privelages or the password, it wont matter. you could also have it autogenerate a keyfile, but you can choose any file you want.
    8) Select a file system to format it as. It doesnt matter what file system you are currently using, as this is completely separate. most people could just leave this to the default, but if NTFS is an option, in some cases it is better to use, but not all that common.
    9) Click format, and wait for it to finish. when its finished your done.

    Basic how to: Mounting and Dismounting a volume
    1) If you have not opened Truecrypt yet, do so now.
    2) Seleect a drive letter in the list, for this example lets use "Z"
    3) click the "Select File..." button, and choose the volume you just created.
    4A) Click the Mont button at the bottom of the window, and enter your password
    4B) If you used a keyfile, click the "use keyfile" check box, and click the "Keyfiles" button, and select the keyfile used when you created the volume.
    5) the volume should mount, and be in My Computer under whatever letter you mounted it to, so in this case, it would show up as a drive, Z: in my computer, than when you want to close it and lock it back up, open Truecrypt, click the letter (in this case Z) and click Dismount.

    KeePass:

    This one is pretty self explanatory, you set a main password, and you store your usernames and passwords in this little vault. Instead of a Master Key, you can use a Keyfile to unlock the "vault" and acess all your passwords.

    Securing your Computer, Before the operating system loads:
    Setting Passwords in the BIOS, and which passwords do what:
    Some of us, for whatever reason, may find it necessary or just feel more secure knowing that their computer is harder to gain access to documents and files, and you can set up your computer to do so in most (if not all) cases.
    A) Types of passwords and their meanings:

    Supervisor/Setup/BIOS Password: this password requires that you enter it to gain access to the the BIOS setup
    System Password (if applicable): Previously called the "Primary Password", requires you to enter the password when you power on your computer, before it will load your operating system, whether it be Windows, Linux, or other applicable Operating systems.
    Internal HDD Password (if applicable):
    This password requires that you enter it whenever you go to boot off of the hard drive. unlike the System Password (listed above) it doesn't matter what computer the hard disk drive (HDD or solid state drive if applicable) is installed in, it will require the password to allow you to gain access.
    Note: I am not sure how this password works out in the event that you hook it up as a slave in another computer, or put it in an enclosure. if anyone who is reading this has any experience with the HDD password feature, pleas just let us know down below in a post. Your help is greatly appreciated.
    B) How to set it up:
    This part really depends on what model computer you have, and can likely be found by searching Google with your Model number, brand, and a phrase such as "How do i set the setup password in bios [insert brand name of computer] [insert model number]. I will do my best to make a general one here, but the interfaces and the categories vary greatly.
    1) when first turning on your computer, it should say somewhere a short bit of text with a message similar to "Press F2 for Setup (line break) Press F12 for Boot Options" the most common keys I have found it to be are F2, F12, and Delete.
    2) This is the part where things start to become diverse. If you see a mouse arrow on your screen read step 2A, if it is a screen with no mouse cursor, skip to step 2B
    2A) Use your mouse to navigate to the section where it sounds like the password settings would be stored, such as "Security", which is the only one i have seen over the past few years. Now click it and it should have more options such as just listing the password types listed above, and look on the screen. It should have either a button, or two to three text boxes, saying to enter the desired password, and retype it to make sure no error was made, and than click the save button, which should be located somewhere on the screen.

    Note: in most cases, there will be a description or directions about the specific item you have selected with your mouse, normally located on the right hand side, or the bottom, but may be somewhere else on the screen. If you do not see it, consult your user manual, or look into it on Google.

    2B) For those with no mouse cursor on the screen, you will have to use your keyboard. to move through the tabs, most likely the passwords would be listed under "Security", so use the left and/or right arrow keys to move to that tab.
    Under that tab it should have either a sub catagory with a line of text that says something to the effect of "Set Pasword(s)", or it may have a seperate option for each type of password. It varies from computer to computer, but most commonly you would use the up and down arrow keys to scroll to the password type you want to set, and hit the Enter key. some may come up with a tiny box where you have to select create password or similar phrase, or cancel, however others don't. Next you type the password, and press tab, or enter depending on the directions (see note below), and then select save, using the keyboard and the save key (specified at the bottom of the screen usually), or the scrolling to the right (right arrow) to the tab titled "Exit" or similar (usally last one on the right) and scroll to Save and Exit, or if you are not done, select Save, and hit enter.
    Note: in most cases, there will be a description or directions about the specific item you have scrolled down to, normally located on the right hand side, or the bottom. If you do not see it, consult your user manual, or look into it on Google.
    3) Restart if you have not already done so, and it should ask you for the password when you boot up, try to enter the BIOS Setup, or both (depending on which passwords you have set)

    General Note:
    There may be (and likely will be on newer computers) options not listed here. If you do not understand what they are, than just leave them alone, log on, and read your manual, search on Google, or make a froum post if you can't find the information elsewhere. A very helpful site, previously mentioned Bleeping Computer, is full of members eager to help.

    If there is anything that i have missed, anything you feel should be added, or anything you want to say, just make a post on the thread. Any and all help is greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by Tezzeh; 12-Jul-2011 at 19:04.

  2. #2

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    Good post, useful info in it - in my opinion overkill but you can never be too safe I guess! By the way, I think using TOR to access ADISC may be against the rules as it counts as using a proxy.

    At home, I use Windows Firewall and Microsoft Security Essentials. I haven't seen a virus or hack attempt in the entire time I've had my system - though it could be false positives. But I've not had any accounts hacked online, so I presume I'm safe. I also work for a big IT company who don't use any anti-virus or firewall system either on individual machines - I assume there must be a reason for it.

    I still can't figure out the difference between Norton 360 etc or standard free programs - at least, what is so good it's worth a small fortune for!

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by eeyore View Post
    At home, I use Windows Firewall and Microsoft Security Essentials. I haven't seen a virus or hack attempt in the entire time I've had my system - though it could be false positives. But I've not had any accounts hacked online, so I presume I'm safe. I also work for a big IT company who don't use any anti-virus or firewall system either on individual machines - I assume there must be a reason for it.

    I still can't figure out the difference between Norton 360 etc or standard free programs - at least, what is so good it's worth a small fortune for!
    It's been accepted by many that anti-virus software does very little against modern malware.

    The days when malware was about making a statement or showing off are gone. Now it's all about money. Malware authors no longer want you to know you've been infected. They want you to be completely unaware while they use your computer (or more specifically sell time on your computer) along with a whole bunch of others like it to send spam. The plus side is you no longer commonly have malware that actually causes problems as the large percentage just stays hidden away and does it's thing. The bad news is, there are very few signs of an infection, and as most tools are ineffective at preventing and finding said malware, you are kind of screwed in the windows world.

    Your workplace, much like many others, may have just thrown up their hands, and started treating every non-critical workstation as infected. Not the best approach, but it exists.

    On the original post, that sounds like a lot of work ;p

    I live alone, so I don't bother with much. I run Linux (specifically gentoo) and I use full disk encryption (luks/dm_crypt) and lock my workstation when I'm away from it. Beyond that, I just don't bother trying to "cover my tracks". If I were in a situation where I wanted to though, I think it would be a whole lot easier to just run a vm, and operate it in a memory snapshot mode (wherein any changes to the pre-set drive image are simply stored as deltas in ram, and wiped out at the end of the session). If really paranoid, scrub the ram afterwards.

    If it's at all an option, isolation is also a really good move. I don't do this with my fetish interests, but I do this for banking/financial stuff. Basically I have a separate machine which is only used for these things. This way I can muck around at-ease with my desktop and other machines, and still have a relatively safe machine for putting CC and other personal info on.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by eeyore View Post
    I think using TOR to access ADISC may be against the rules as it counts as using a proxy.
    Just checked. it is only blitzed that blogs it. you have a green light to use it for adisc...if you want to phrase it that way



    Quote Originally Posted by eeyore View Post
    I still can't figure out the difference between Norton 360 etc or standard free programs - at least, what is so good it's worth a small fortune for!
    the name? most overpriced items get sold just because they are a name brand.

  5. #5

  6. #6

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    If your on a shared computer, I use TrueCrypt. It's pretty useful, I load Google Chrome through a triple 256-bit encryption, with 2 keyfiles and a 16 character password.

    By the way, a single layer of 256-bit encryption is the amount of encryption used on the US Government's Top Secret files . I use triple that.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hal0ispwnd View Post
    If your on a shared computer, I use TrueCrypt. It's pretty useful, I load Google Chrome through a triple 256-bit encryption, with 2 keyfiles and a 16 character password.

    By the way, a single layer of 256-bit encryption is the amount of encryption used on the US Government's Top Secret files . I use triple that.
    i should add truecrypt to my arsenal :P

    last time i used it was two years ago when i regularly made backups :P
    also keepass might be a good one to add to the list...

    UPDATE:
    Keepass has been added, and Truecrypt has been added as well, with credit going to Hal0ispwnd, for mentioning it and giving me the idea of adding it.
    Last edited by Tezzeh; 12-Jul-2011 at 04:13.

  8. #8

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    Good information. I have been hacked not to long ago, but mine started though my blackberry where the hacker got my gmail password and then logged on to my gmail from a location in Argentina the access type was unknown and i was unable to trace the ip address.

    It doesnt hurt to be safe but if a hacker really wants your info bad enough they will find a way somehow.

  9. #9

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    I use logmein.com to access my personal computer from any computer. I only get on Adisc from my personal computer, because no one else uses it. But if i do not have access to it and know it is at home connected to the internet. I can use any public computer to access it. That is also how i get on from work. If they ever checked the History or anything, it would just show i was at Logmein.com, and that is all they could see. Logmein is more or less a FREE version of gotomypc, it is not as secure and it is not powered by Citrix, but it is just as good, if you are using it for personal use.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by baby_mike View Post
    Good information. I have been hacked not to long ago, but mine started though my blackberry where the hacker got my gmail password and then logged on to my gmail from a location in Argentina the access type was unknown and i was unable to trace the ip address.

    It doesnt hurt to be safe but if a hacker really wants your info bad enough they will find a way somehow.
    As far as passwords go, i am safe. As far as preventing myself from not being hacked, you never can really be "protected" if they keep finding new holes or workarounds before they can patch them. it is mainly just to cover my tracks and to prevent me from needing to reinstall windows

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