How to check security settings, status and software

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The online world is not a safe place.

We’re not doubting the fact that you have tried your best to install an antivirus program on your machine.

Maybe you have also installed a good VPN service.

And maybe, just maybe, you have installed some other security software on all of your devices such as,

  • Tablets
  • Phones
  • PC

However, how do you know if they are still working?

Or how would anyone know if a hacker has hacked him/her?

These are the 9 tips that we want to help you with when it comes to performing one’s own full security checkup.

Perhaps the first question that you should ask yourself is that when was the last time did you have a good look at your antivirus software application?

How much time has passed since you installed your security suite or antivirus product?

It is true that now, security companies design their products so that users who install them only have to set them and then forget them.

However, on those rare occasions, you should make it a habit to remember them and also check on them to see if they are in good shape.

So here are the nine steps that we think you should take in order to comprehensively make sure that you are able to get the maximum amount of benefit from your antivirus and other security systems.

Step 1: Make sure the antivirus software is up to date

All the modern online antivirus products and related utilities tend to make use of behavior-based malware detection systems.

In this way, they can block any type of malware.

Even the one that they have never encountered beforehand.

With that said, it is also true that some antivirus systems also make use of the old method of looking at malware signatures.

This is like taking help of a, kind of, online digital fingerprint.

In this way, such antivirus products are able to pick off all the easy malware viruses and also take care of known online threats.

So the first step for our reader is to open up the antivirus product and then take a look at any message that talks about a need to actually update the given antivirus product’s databases.

It doesn’t really matter if there is an actual message their or not.

What matters is that you should rummage around for a bit in order to find the exact command which enables the option of an on-demand online check for any recent updates.

This step can never hurt you so there is no point in thinking too hard about it.

While working on that, it is also a good idea to whether the antivirus product itself is due for an update.

Check if a newer version of the product that you are using is available.

Our research shows that it is always recommended to check each and every one of your online security products to see if they have any available uninstalled updates.

Usually though, users will easily find a quick and easy option which allows them to update their product in the related File or sometimes even the Help menu.

If you cannot find it there then take a look in the tray menu that opens up on the screen when you perform a right click on the official icon of the product which appears in the given operating system’s notification area.

Our research shows that in the process of doing so, users are more than likely to discover that their actual subscription period has long expired.

If that is indeed the case, then the user should immediately renew his/her subscription at the earliest possible opportunity.

Step 2: Make sure you have signed up only for the best security antivirus software

This is the step where we ask you to take a look at all the security products that you have installed on your system.

And then honestly consider your choice.

How did you come about to selecting that product?

Did you seriously sign up for your chosen antivirus product because of an advertisement someone fed to you on TV?

Did you actually sign up for a security product because some friend suggested it was good?

Or did your computer machine come with that default antivirus product that you are currently using?

In order to make certain that you really have installed the best in the business products, visit securitygladiators.com and then go ahead to peruse all of our reviews of different security products.

On the chance that you find that we have pointed out some flaws in your current security product’s online protection or we simply did not rank it high enough, take a look at our top picks for security products in different categories.

We think that a lot of readers would want to jump ship once they find out that the security product they had installed on their system is not really as secure as they would have thought.

Step 3: Don’t be afraid to launch tests on your antivirus to see what it is made of

 

So back to the main question:

How is one supposed to know if the antivirus installed on the system is really working or not?

Some users have this habit of assuming that just because an antivirus product does not pop up those notification messages to say something like ‘quarantined bad malware’, means that there is not a single piece of malware code on their system.

However, there is also the possibility that the antivirus product that you have installed on your system is not working.

So how to tell the difference without ever having to put one’s computer machine at risk?

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Well, the first thing that you should do is to visit the Security Features Check tool on the official website of Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization or AMTSO.

From there, you should have no problems in making use of all the various tests that are available on the site.

The tests have several aspects that check the usefulness of the malware protection that you have installed.

Our research shows that the website’s tests also check for protection against fraudulent or phishing websites.

Readers should take note that this website would only prove useful if they have installed an antivirus product that the official AMTSO testing tools (or pages) support.

On each of AMTSO testing pages, users should have no problems in finding the list of companies that AMTSO supports.

The information is usually present right at the extreme bottom of any given page.

Step 4: You must verify the VPN service that you are using

A virtual private network, or a VPN, is a service that provides protection to the user’s internet traffic.

It does that by routing the user’s traffic through a tunnel.

That tunnel is encrypted.

In other words, the user’s connection to the internet is encrypted.

Because of this setup, no one is able to view your private or sensitive data.

Or any data for that matter.

And when we say no one, we do mean no one.

Not even the creator or the owner of the specific network that you have connected to can see what you are doing in the internet.

Moreover, because of a VPN service, all the sites that you regularly visit cannot see your real IP address.

They are only able to see the IP address of that VPN server to which you have connected to.

Because of that, a VPN can protect your privacy almost completely.

Of course, again, the question remains:

How to know if your VPN service is working or not?

We have a very simple method of knowing if a VPN service is leaking the user’s IP address or not.

What you have to do is to first turn off your VPN service.

After that, go to Google.com.

And then type the term ‘whats my IP address’ (Google can account for grammar mistakes so don’t worry about that).

Once you do that, Google should show you your real IP address.

That’s half the job done.

Now, you need to go back to your VPN client and then turn on the VPN service.

After that, you need to go to Google.com again.

And check for your IP address, again.

This time around though, Google should show you a differently arranged IP address.

The modern internet also provides ways to online consumers to check their IP addresses that don’t involve Google.

There are many geolocation services and websites that provide users with the facility of checking the location of their IP address.

Using such services, users can easily make certain that their IP address matches the exact region that their VPN service is telling them.

Step 5: Make sure your mobile devices have everything set up right

Everyone now knows that Apple has developed its iOS platform from the ground up with security and privacy in mind.

So in that regard, iOS pretty airtight.

However, the same is not the case with Android.

In other words, Android devices don’t provide users with much security.

In fact, there are malicious programs numbering in the millions that specifically aim to wreak chaos on nothing else but Android devices.

What we mean to say is that if you haven’t gone through the trouble of installing a security software on your tablet or phone running on Android then you have taken a risk.

You should understand that there are lots of free options available.

Moreover, the typical antivirus protection and security tool available for Android comes with both anti-theft features as well as malware protection.

With that said, we are aware of the fact that it is entirely possible for you to already have installed some protection on your Android devices as a part of your recently purchased desktop computer security suite.

We say that because a good chunk of modern security suites does not offer protection for multiple platforms by default.

What you need to do right now is to check out any and all of our security product reviews that provide users with some of the best Android protection available on the market.

Step 6: Do not skip scanning your Internet of Things

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Twitch is good. Hackers on Twitch? That is bad.

We mean it.

The reality of the modern world of the internet is that mobile devices and computers are actually not the only Internet-enabled things that have the capacity to communicate with other things over the internet using your home network.

There is a high chance that you have a lot of other internet-enabled devices on your home network.

We’re talking about devices such as,

  • Video doorbells
  • Game consoles
  • Garage-door devices to open them

And a lot more.

Now here is the problem with that:
There is no simple way to install any kind of protection on these things in terms of security software.

Hence, you don’t really have that many options to secure such devices.

Or do you?

If there is some user demand, businesses usually get in on the act more quickly than some of us realize.

What we mean by that is, a growing number of security companies are not developing products for this very category of devices.

There is Avira Home Guard and some others that can act as free and effective home security scanners.

Such security programs do two things very efficiently.

The first thing that they do is that they inform you of the exact number of devices that have actually formed a connection with your home network.

Our research shows that most find the actual list of devices connected to their home network rather surprising.

And secondly, these security programs also check for various security problems that exist within those internet-enabled devices.

This is a good time to mention the likes of Bitdefender Home Scanner as well.

It has the ability to go one step ahead of everyone else.

In other words, it doesn’t just report on various possible security vulnerabilities.

Bitdefender Home Scanner pops up new notifications each and every time a new device forms a connection with the user’s network.

Not only that, the Bitdefender Home Scanner also offers users to scan the network and the device for any problems.

Bitdefender also offers users a heads-up of sorts to actually ask them if they know the device that just joined their network.

Step 7: Don’t forget to analyze and correct your passwords

We’re assuming here that you have installed a password manager on your system.

And you have done that right?

Great.

That is exactly what we expected.

However, you need to make sure that the password manager is not just saving and replaying a bunch of short and week and duplicate passwords for all of your online accounts.

The thing readers need to understand hee is that, exporting all of one’s passwords into the given password manager’s systems is just the beginner level step in a whole range of steps.

The majority of the good password managers on the market today include a feature where they can report the strength of various user passwords.

Our research shows that the elite password managers actually give users a complete list of passwords and then allow the users to sort those password by their strength.

This is where we must mention that if you are one of those users who happen to have a raft of short, duplicate and weak passwords, then this is the time to start fixing and changing them.

Start things off with the absolute worst five of all of your passwords.

And then move on from there if you have more and also have the time to fix them.

Then, continue with this trend and fix five more the next day.

You need to keep doing this unless and until your password manager has no other choice but to give you a proper gold star or something equivalent.

Step 8: Find out right now if someone has pwned you

Every week we have to endure another data breach in one company or another.

And we all know what happens when there is a data breach don’t we?

That’s right.

After a successful data breach, hackers leak all the personal information contained in the stolen data to the wider world of the Dark Web.

It is entirely possible that hackers might have already exposed your data to the Dark Web.

But is there a way to find out?

Yes.

There is.

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Fortunately, someone has set up this very handy website by the name of Have I Been Pwned.

It helps users to know if any of their online accounts got affected by a particular data breach.

In order to find out whether or not hackers compromised your data, all that you have to do is to enter your relevant email address.

After you have done so, the tool will take a second or two to show you all the information that turns up in a given and known data breach.

It also reports on the data dump that may have found its way on sites such as Pastebin.

By chance, if the site shows you the message that says “Oh no – pwned!” then that is the green light you need to go straight ahead to the account that the site has mentioned and then change the account password as soon as possible if not immediately.

Step 9: Always set a schedule to review online social media security

You need us to tell you that your online accounts on various social media websites should all have their status set to private.

The only place where it is not possible to do so is on Twitter.

For others, setting the account to private is the only way to make certain that only your family and friends are able to see all your posts.

However, we would like to ask you here whether or not you have checked your social media accounts to make sure that you have configured all of them for best possible security?

In order to do so, just log in and then navigate with your mouse or keyboard to the settings menu and then review anything and everything that is related to your online privacy and/or security.

To take an example, for sites such as Facebook, the best setting is where only your close Friends are able to see your posts.

Moreover, it is also a good idea to only allow Friends of Friends to send you new Facebook friend requests.

Additionally, it is also considered best practice to not allow search engines to link to your Facebook profile.

On that note, we have also come to know that Facebook also enables users to review all of their devices which they have used to log in to their Facebook accounts.

We suggest that you review that list pronto.

And in the case of finding anything fishy, you should log out that device with immediate effect.

Plenty of online consumers do not seem to realize this but, even if they have taken the time to tighten up their Facebook settings, third-party apps and friends can actually leak their data.

As far as Facebook is concerned, users have the option of closing that leak point by simply disabling the option of the site’s sharing API.

Moreover, if you want to, you can also first download and then view all the data that Facebook and Google have saved on you.

 

Zohair

Zohair

Zohair is currently a content crafter at Security Gladiators and has been involved in the technology industry for more than a decade. He is an engineer by training and, naturally, likes to help people solve their tech related problems. When he is not writing, he can usually be found practicing his free-kicks in the ground beside his house.
Zohair

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