Creating a Strong Password 101


Most authentication is still based on username and password, personally I feel this is adequate for most of my personal accounts as long as I use a strong password. I do wish MY Bank offered two factor authentication, but alas it does not yet.

So, if a strong password is ALL you have to protect yourself how do you create one and more importantly how do you remember it? Let’s start with creating a strong password…

CREATING A STRONG PASSWORD

  • Pick two or three words that are 10 or more letters in length.
  • Use unrelated words
  • Substitute at least one letter for a number, such as 4 for A or 3 for E.  Do not substitute ALL possible letters for numbers.
  • Add a punctuation.
  • Capitalize at least one letter.

Sound doable?  Now, the real challenge is remembering it.  If you absolutely cannot remember passwords then I suggest using the Password Safe, just make sure your password to access the safe is VERY secure.  This allows you to remember only one password and have access to all your other passwords contained in the safe.  For those of you that  feel up to the challenge try running an installation of TeamPass.  It is what I personally use.  Just make sure to back it up and NEVER change the salt.  You should be able to but it is not supported yet and you will lose ALL of your passwords as well as all passwords for all others.  I suggest not putting this site on the internet.

EXAMPLE 1

  • picture leaf
  • pictur3 l3af
  • pictur3#l3af
  • Pictur3#l3aF

Now what you have to remember….

  • picture#leaf with e’s substituted for 3’s and the first and last letters capitalized. 

EXAMPLE 2

  • space manhole
  • sp4ce m4nhole
  • sp4ce.m4nhole
  • sp4cE.M4nhole

Now what you have to remember….

  • space.manhole with a’s substituted for 4’s and the last letter of the first word and first letter of the last word capitalized.

Security Online Malware Research Tools


Here is a collection of various online tools I use to research security related to specific URLs.  Order is not related to usefulness as each has their own usage.  WOT (Web of Trust) is one of my favorites but they all have their uses when researching malware sites.

Virus Total

File Scanner:
https://www.virustotal.com/en/

URL Scanner:
https://www.virustotal.com/en/#url

Description: VirusTotal is a free service that analyzes suspicious files and URLs and facilitates the quick detection of viruses, worms, trojans, and malware.

Use Case(s): Virus Total is a very easy tool to use and can give immediate returns for better known exploits, viruses, malware, etc. This site can also analyze either a single file or full URL. Just because a check comes back clean DOES NOT mean the file or URL are clean. If one or more of the results identify the file as MALWARE beware as there is a high potential for infection.

  1. Evaluate a potential malicious file by uploading it.
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  2. Evaluate a potential malicious URL scanning it.
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Here is a URL sample report of an infected site. It does not show the full list of all engines that check, however what should be of interest and concern to you is that at least two of the sites registered the URL as MALWARE.

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URLVoid

Link to URLVoid:
http://www.urlvoid.com/

Description: URLVoid.com is a free service developed by NoVirusThanks Company Srl that allows users to scan a website address with multiple website reputation engines and domain blacklists to facilitate the detection of possible dangerous websites, used to distribute malware and spyware or related to fraudulent activities. This site can simply be thought of as a website blacklist database.

Use Case(s): This site has much the same use case(s) as Virus Total, however there are a few unique features that URLVoid has that Virus Total does not have.

  1. Evaluate a potential malicious URL
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  2. Shows Website Blacklist Report with clickable links to each of the blacklist sites. Some will pull up reports like MyWOT, others will take you to the search page where you can search again for the questionable site directly.
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  3. Test if the site is still up and responding.
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  4. Shows IP Address Details, server geolocation and “website neighbors”.
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  5. This site also provides informational traffic graphs.
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WOT – Web of Trust

Link to WOT:
http://www.mywot.com

Description: Web of Trust (WOT) is a powerful user reporting tool. It can be added to your browser to provide “warnings” for links provided by search engines (such as Bing and Google). It also provides a method of allowing users to provide direct ratings and comments to any given site. This tool can be added directly

“WOT displays a colored traffic light next to website links to show you which sites people trust for safe searching, surfing and shopping online: green for good, red for bad, and yellow as a warning to be cautious. The icons are shown in popular search engine results, social media, online email, shortened URLs, and lots of other sites.”

Use Case(s): This site has much the same use case(s) as Virus Total and the base function of URLVoid, however it also has a unique feature of its own – a large self-reporting user community base. The largest value I find from this site is self-reporting comments and user ratings. User ratings are broken down by Trustworthiness, Vendor Reliability, Privacy and Child Safety.

  1. Evaluate potential malicious URLs broken down by Trustworthiness, Vendor Reliability, Privacy and Child Safety. Additional information regarding blacklisting’s (such as from SURBL) is provided.
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  2. User comments are provided for some sites. When these exist I find they can be particularly useful, especially when users report sites contain malware and have overall poor ratings.

Google Safe Browsing

Link to Google Safe Browsing:
http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=http://domain.com

Description: Good easy online check, however it is not very good at catching transient sites. I very often will use this (or MyWOT) first as a quick check.  There is no search “box” that I have found and to use this you will need to change site=http://domain.com to the site you want to check, such as site=http://checkthisbadboyout.com

Use Case(s): Provides information if a site has been listed with Google as having suspicious activity over the past 90 days. Some items which can be of use:

  • What happened when Google visited the site: This section will list the number of Trojan(s) and Exploit(s) hosted (not type) and can also provide details such as “infection resulted in an average of 1 new process(es) on the target machine”.
  • Has this site hosted malware: This section can contain other domains which are either associated or were infected by this domain.
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vURL Online

Link to vURL Online:
http://vurl.mysteryfcm.co.uk

Description: vURL is a webpage dissection service that was developed due to limitations that were found in alternate services of similar function. This is probably one of the most complex online tools and certainly the most complex listed on this page. Most of the other tools available will usually provide you enough information to determine if a site is hosting malicious content, however in some cases it may not be clear or there is a need to see what the output of the code is when visiting the site without risking infection to your own machine. When this is needed it is time to utilize the power of vURL Online.

Use Case(s): This tool provides some basic information regarding the site but its primary use is website dissection. In its current incarnation, vURL dissects webpages you provide it, and extracts the following for you:

  • Webpage title
  • Webpage source code (with line numbers)
  • Webpage links
  • Webpage images (coming back soon)
  • Server headers (Only if the server returns this information – not all servers do)
  • Server IP address
  • Server IP PTR (IP to hostname resolution)
  • Server type (Only if the server returns this information – not all servers do)
  • hpHosts inclusion status
  • Malware Domain List (MDL) inclusion status
  • PhishTank inclusion status
  • WhoIs and net-block information (Provided via hpHosts Online)
  1. Need to dissect a URL.
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  2. Provides basic server information, status from hpHosts, MDL, Phish Tank, Sudo secure and Known Security. It also provides the header breakdown
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  3. And this is where the real fun begins. A line by line breakdown of the entire webpage response. This can be useful for identifying re-directions  obfuscation, etc. It has a lot of power, way more than is appropriate to provide detailed information within this document.
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