Chrome is the most popular browser today because of its superior speed. However, it’s very intrusive in nature, which we will discuss in the chapter “What Google Knows About Us”. The following processes help improve the security and privacy of the Chrome browser.
Most extension in Chrome can be installed in the same manner as in Firefox. The procedure is explained below:
Chrome Extensions Worth Installing:
Chrome Browser Settings:
Tap on three vertical dots in the upper right corner > History OR Ctrl+H.
Now tap on “Clear Browsing Data” present towards the left side of the page. The two options available are “Basic” and “Advanced”. Both the options allow a user to delete the stored data for time raging from “last hour” to “all time”. Alternatively, we can install the extension Click&Clean to automate this task.
The basic option allows the user to delete:
The advanced option allows the users to delete:
We recommend to de-select both the boxes: “Offer to save passwords” and “Auto sign-in – Automatically sign in websites using stored credentials. If disabled, you will be asked for confirmation every time before signing in to a website”.
Tap on the three vertical dots in upper right corner, and then select “Settings” from the drop-down menu. Now, we recommend the following:
Privacy and Security > Content Settings:
They are small pieces of text sent by the server to a web browser and then sent back by the client every-time it access that server. They are used for authentication, session tracking and much more. Though useful, they raise privacy concern as they track user behaviour across the internet.
Therefore, tap on “Block third-party cookies” settings to toggle the slider to “On” position. This prevents third-party websites from saving and reading the cookie data.
A VPN extends a private network across a public network such as the internet. When we browse normally, the website knows the IP address, the approximate location, ISP and the type of connection (cable, DSL etc). However, when we use VPN, website only sees the IP address of one of the VPN’s servers. The VPN connects the device to one of its servers and the data flow is then encrypted.
VPN provide privacy not anonymity, because the VPN server can see everything like ISPs sees normally. Worst, some VPNs log this information especially the free ones.
What are the Benefits of a VPN?
Features of the Best VPN:
TOR network is a group of volunteer operated servers around the globe. After using TOR, a user connects to a website through a series of virtual tunnels rather than directly.
This allows him/ her to mask the IP address, hence the location and other information. TOR has been recommended by whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden, privacy enthusiasts etc.
Cyber space is evolving by the day, including new threats and solutions. Hence, readers must use this chapter as a starting point and continuously update themselves.
"I'm very excited about having the internet in my den”.
- Steve Jobs, founder, Apple
Google is the world’s most popular search engine. Many of us still use it multiple times a day, to search a wide variety of things. The results to the searches are based on certain pre-defined algorithms. Sadly, very few of us understand the complexities of the algorithm to make the most from our searches.
In this Chapter, we shall understand the algorithm and the advance operators.
Google Search Operators:
Google search operators are special characters and commands (sometimes called “advance operators”) that extend the capabilities of the regular text searches. There are generally two parts to most search operators, separated by a colon (:).
To the left of the colon is the type of the operator such as file-type operator or the site operator. To the right of the colon is the rule for the operator such as type of file (PDF, JPG etc) or the target’s domain name.
The search operators are generally divided into:
Here we shall discuss about the basic and advance search operators in great depth.
Placing the search term inside the quotation marks is the simplest way to enhance the quality of the searches substantially.
If we conduct search for the term “Ravi Kumar” without quotes, the results are the pages that have the words “Ravi” and “Kumar”. However, these pages need not have the words “Ravi” and “Kumar” right next to each other. The word “Ravi” could be next to another person’s name and similarly word “Kumar” could be next to yet another person’s name.
The results thus, provide inaccurate information, mostly being false positives. They may include a reference to “Ravi Shastri” and “Kishore Kumar” but not “Ravi Kumar”. Since technically the words “Ravi” and “Kumar” appear on the page, we get these results too. To prevent this, we should place the search term within the double quotes. This reduces the search results drastically, generally by a factor of x10 to x1000. The result pages then contain the words “Ravi” and “Kumar” right next to each other. Placing quotes around any search terms tells Google to search exactly for the mandated term.
If the search result with quotes yields nothing or few results, consider searching without quotes. On the other hand, if the searches with quotes yield unmanageable number of results, consider adding words to your search. For example, when we add the term “police” after “Ravi Kumar” the search results reduce drastically. These results contain pages that have the words “Ravi” and “Kumar” right next to each other and also include the word “police” on that page somewhere. While all the results may not be useful, the reduced results can be much easily digested. Adding the peculiar aspects related to the search term like residence city, occupation, college to a target name may help eliminate unrelated results.
We have found the search with quotation marks to be extremely valuable when searching the following:
The list is more inclusive than exhaustive.
This is our favourite operator, especially because of the different combinations it allows. Site operator provides two benefits to the search results. Firstly, it provides results of the pages located only on a specific domain. Secondly, it provides all of the results containing the search term on that domain.
The technique can be applied to any domain including social networks, blogs and any other website that has been indexed by the search engine. Thus, once the page has been indexed by crawlers, we can view the content using the “site” operator.
Combinations With The Site Operators:
File Type Operator:
The “file-type operator” helps filter the search result by a particular file-type. This operator can be used by students to find the best study material, by hackers to find sensitive personal information and much more.
Real World Application:
A search of filetype:doc “resume” “target name” provides resumes created by the target on different platforms. The result is likely to contain extremely personal information including phone number, home address, work and education history etc. These are the details the target will never post intentionally on the internet.
Previously, Google indexed media files by types such as AVI, MP4 and others. Due to abuse of the pirated content, this no longer works. However, we can use the following extensions to gather similar valuable information:
7Z: Compressed file
BMP: Bitmap image
DOC: Microsoft Word
DOCX: Microsoft Word
GIF: Animated Image
HTM: Web page
HTML: Web page
KML: Google Earth
KMZ: Google Earth
ODP: Open Office Presentation
ODS: Open Office Spreadsheet
ODT: Open Office Text
PDF: Adobe Acrobat
PPT: Microsoft Power Point
PPTX: Microsoft Power Point
RAR: Compressed File
RTF: Rich Text Format
TXT: Text File
XLS: Microsoft Excel
XLSX: Microsoft Excel
ZIP: Compressed File
The hyphen (-) operator asks Google to exclude the text immediately following the hyphen from the search results. Thus, this command helps exclude words that you don’t want to appear in the search results. There should never be space between the hyphen and the text to be excluded. This operator is mostly used to reduce the over-whelming results.
Example: “Ravi Kumar” -cricketer
The operators discussed so far, apply to the contents within the web page. However, this operator focuses on the data within the URL or address of the website.
The “inurl:” syntax restricts the search results to the URLs containing the keywords searched. For example, inurl:password returns only links to those pages that have the word “password” in their URLs. There must be no space between the inurl: and the following word.
If one has to search for multiple words in an URL, then he/ she should use the “allinurl:” syntax. This is because, putting inurl: in front of every word in the query is equivalent to putting allinurl: at the front of query. E.g, “inurl:confidential inurl:information” is the same as “allinurl:confidential information”.
Similarly, the query “inurl:healthy eating” will return documents that mention the word “healthy” in their URL and mention the word “eating” somewhere in the document.
This can also be used to find the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) servers that allow anonymous connection. For example,
Inurl:ftp -inrul:(http|https) “search term”
Inurl:ftp – Instructs Google to display only the addresses that contain “ftp” in the URL.
-inurl:(http|https) – Instructs Google to ignore any addresses that contain either http or https in the URL. This makes sure that Google excludes any standard web pages.
“search term” – Instructs Google to search for the exact search term.
Practically, every web page on the internet has an official title. This is often included within the source code of the page and may not appear anywhere else within the content. Most webmasters carefully create a title that will be best indexed by the search engines.
The “Intitle Operator” restricts the search to pages containing that word within the title
tag. For example, intitle:login password returns links to those pages that have the word "login" in their title and the word "password" somewhere on the page.
Similarly, if there is a query for more than one word in the page title then “allintitle:” should be used instead of “intitle”. For example using “intitle:login intitle:password”, is same as querying “allintitle: login password”. The following search finds any site with words login and password within the title, regardless of the order.
As the name suggests, this OR operator (|) searches for pages that have one word or the other. Thus, the search for the term Ravi OR Kumar returns pages that have just the term “Ravi” OR just the term “Kumar” OR both the terms “Ravi” and “Kumar” in that page. The pipe operator (|) can also be used in place of “OR”.
Law enforcement agencies and private investigators use this operator to search for a suspect’s number on criminal sites like Back-page. This is usually achieved by searching many if not all of the different possible combinations:
Please notice many other possible combinations are still left out like “2015.5.51212” or “20155.1212” or “two zero one fifty-five five one two one two” or “two 01 five 55 twelve twelve” etc. However, imagination and creativity can help make the searches even more effective.
The “Cache Operator” provides the most recent cache of the specified webpage. This also finds when the page was last crawled by the Google search engine.
For example, the query “cache:www.svpnpa.gov.in” displays the Google’s cache of SVPNPA home page, instead of the current home page. Like most other operators, there should be no space between cache: and the URL.
Asterisk operator (*) represents one or multiple words to Google and is popularly known as the wild card search operator. Google considers * as a placeholder for words within a search term.
For example, “honesty * policy” commands Google to search for pages containing the phrases beginning with “honesty”, followed by one or multiple words, followed by the word “policy”. The different phrases that fit the results include “honesty is the best policy”, “honesty is the most important policy” etc.
The “Range Operator” instructs Google to search between two identifiers. The identifiers can be sequential number, years, days etc. E.g., Holi 2010..2017 searches pages with the word Holi and also any number between 2010 and 2017 on the same page.
The “Related Operator” searches for websites with similar content. Thus, “related:www.google.com” searches pages that are similar to the Google’s home page. There should be no space between related: and the URL of the web page.
Info operator finds additional information about the specified web page. This includes the cached version, links to the pages that link to this website, other pages on this site etc.
E.g, “info:domain name”
Google Search Tools:
There is a search bar at the top of every Google search results page. This allows users to search the term with other Google services like News, Images, Maps, Books and More. The last option on the bar is the “Tools” link. Tapping this link presents new filters of Any-country, Anytime and All results.
Tapping “Anytime” presents a drop down menu with options ranging from past hour to past year. The default is set to “Anytime” that does not filter the results. Selecting “Past hour” displays only the results indexed within the last hour. Other options of day, week, month and year work similarly. Clicking the last option “Custom range” opens a new pop-up window that allows us to customize the date range. This helps analyse the content posted within a definite time frame.
Real world application:
To locate the content when we know the approximate date.
Do you know:
Google operators are intrusive enough to hack websites! In fact, there are books written on “How to hack with Google”.
Even though there are thousands of search engines, there is still no alternative to Google. Google has dominated the search engine market, maintaining a market share of 89.95 % as on January 2019. Hence, need to use Google more efficiently.
"There was a time when people felt the internet was another world, but now people realise it's a tool that we use in this world".
- Tim Berners-Lee, inventor World Wide Web
Google has much more to offer than just simple search function, for example, search alerts, email tracking, accessing search archives, online storage etc. Each of these products have multiple real life applications and so we must understand their utility in detail.
While searching online, sometimes we are unable to find the satisfactory content or maybe we find no content at all. Hence its natural that we will like to be informed automatically, the moment the desired content is posted online. This is because checking Google again and again to find whether the new content has been posted, can be a very exhausting and irritating experience.
Google Alerts (https://google.com/alerts) is a Google product for such automated searches. It checks whether the desired information has been posted online and informs the user accordingly.
How To Make Google Alerts?
While logged in to any of the Google services like Gmail:
Google Alert saves our time and makes the searches effective as it’s not humanly possible to search the websites 24*7 for the desired information.
Sometimes, when we search a specific site, the results are unexpected and the site seems altered or amended. In some situation, the website may no longer be available altogether. In such cases, historical copies of the websites prove handy.
What Are Google Cache?
When we conduct a Google search, the URL associated with each search result is present directly below the name of the website. A green down arrow is generally present next to the result’s address. Tapping the green down arrow presents option of either “Similar” or “Cached” or both.
Tapping on “Cached” loads the historical version of the same page. If the website no longer exists, it shows the last cached version. On the other hand, clicking on “Similar” identifies web pages with the similar content.
If we have to view the cached version of a specific page within a website, then we should use the “Cache Operator” as discussed in the previous Chapter.
Example: cache:”URL of the specific web page”
Sign In And Security:
The Google account then provides several options for “2 Step verification “which include:
This is one of the most amazing feature of Google Accounts. It helps the owner find his/ her lost phone.
What are the Different Methods to Secure the Phone?
The phone is erased only when it comes online the next time. If it doesn’t come online, it can’t be erased. Features like “Find your phone” and “Android Device Manager “may no longer work to locate, ring or lock the phone.