Book Chapters  

Chrome:
 

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. 

Chrome Extensions: 
Most extension in Chrome can be installed in the same manner as in Firefox. The procedure is explained below: 

Chrome Extensions Worth Installing:

  • Video Download Helper
  • FireShot
  • Nimbus
  • uBlock Origin
  • HTTPS Everywhere
  • Exif Viewer
  • User Agent Switcher for Chrome
  • Google Translate
  • Image Search Options

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.

URL: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/clickclean/ghgabhipcejejjmhhchfonmamedcbeod

The basic option allows the user to delete:

  • Browsing history.
  • Cookies and other site data.
  • Cached images and files.

The advanced option allows the users to delete:

  • Browsing history.
  • Download history.
  • Cookies and other site data.
  • Cached images and files.
  • Passwords and other sign-in data.
  • Auto-fill form data.
  • Content settings.
  • Hosted app data. 
  • Media licenses.  

Passwords:
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”. 

Settings Modifications:
Tap on the three vertical dots in upper right corner, and then select “Settings” from the drop-down menu. Now, we recommend the following:

Sign-out:

  • When we are logged into the Google Chrome, we see the Gmail account user name and the Gmail ID. On the right side of it, is a drop down menu. Tap on it, and select the “Sign out” option. 
  • Logging out of Google enriches our privacy, as Google no longer associates the searches we make to our account. Otherwise, even with the Incognito mode of Google Chrome, the searches are added to our Google account. 

Advanced Settings:
Privacy and Security > Content Settings:

Cookies:
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. 
 

Virtual Private Network:
 

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?

  • Privacy: ISP only sees the connection to the VPN server and nothing more.
  • Defeats censorship: By connecting to a server, where the website is not blocked. 
  • Protects on public Wi-Fi: As the data is securely encrypted. 
  • Prevents tracking: From websites and trackers like Google and Facebook. 
  • Access blocked content: By changing the IP address to an un-blocked nation. 

Features of the Best VPN:

  • Privacy and Logging: They do not keep logs of user activity otherwise it defeats the very purpose of using a VPN. Also, they ask minimal personal details to create an account for using their servers. 
  • Protocols: They offer different protocols, to optimize connection speed for different activities. This is because encryption requires a lot of processing power and slows the connection down. 
  • Server location: It has servers in most countries of the world, to defeat censorship and to access the blocked content. 
  • Speed: Good upload, download and ping time. 
  • Multi platform VPN: Compatible with desktop and mobile devices we use. 
  • Affordable and competitive prices.
  • Kill switch: If the VPN connection suddenly drops, kill switch immediately kills the internet connection, to prevent sending any sensitive data across an unsecured network. 

TOR – “The Onion Router”
 

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. 

Conclusion:
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. 

Chapter 4: How to Perform the Best Google Searches:
 

"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: 

  • Basic search operators
  • Advance search operators
  • Unreliable/ deprecated search operators

Here we shall discuss about the basic and advance search operators in great depth. 

Basic Search Operators:
 

Quotation Marks:
Placing the search term inside the quotation marks is the simplest way to enhance the quality of the searches substantially. 

Example:
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:

  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • User name
  • Pin Code

The list is more inclusive than exhaustive. 

Site operator: 
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:

  • site:example.com/folder: If one knows a site’s basic architecture, this combination can drill down the site. E.g, site:amazon.com/India
  • site:sub.example.com: Helps drill down into specific sub-domains. E.g, site:local.amazon.com
  • site:example.com inurl:abc: The “site:” operator combined with “inurl:” operator can find the sub-domains. More so, because the "inurl:" is much more flexible than putting the sub-domain directly into the main query. E.g, site:amazon.com inurl:local.
  • site:example.com inurl:https: This combination helps find any secure pages that the Google has indexed. E.g, site:amazon.com inurl:https
  • site:example.com “search term”: This simple combination can be used to track duplicate and near-duplicate copy of a site. E.g, site:amazon.com "free kindle books"
  • site:example.com intitle:”text goes here”: The "intitle:" operator only matches text in thetag. This combination can be used to quickly find major duplicate content problems. E.g, site:amazon.com intitle:"harry potter"
  • site:example.com filetype:pdf: One of the drawbacks of "inurl:" is that it matches any string in the URL. For example, search for "inurl:pdf", may return a page called "/guide-to-create-a-great-pdf". The "filetype:" operator, forces Google to search for only that file extension. E.g, site:amazon.com filetype:xls
  • site:.edu “text goes here”: Finally, one can target just the Top-Level Domain (TLD), by leaving out the root domain. E.g, site:.edu "online marketing"

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 

DWF: Autodesk 
GIF: Animated Image

HTM: Web page 
HTML: Web page

JPG: Image
JPEG: Image

KML: Google Earth
KMZ: Google Earth

ODP: Open Office Presentation
ODS: Open Office Spreadsheet

ODT: Open Office Text 
PDF: Adobe Acrobat

PNG: Image
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     

Hyphen Operator:
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

Inurl Operator:
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. 

Intitle Operator:
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.

OR Operator:
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: 

  • “2015551212” OR “201-555-1212” OR “201.555.1212” OR “201 555 1212”
  • “(201) 5551212” OR “(201) 555-1212” OR “(201) 555.1212” OR “(201)5551212” OR “(201)555-1212” OR (201)555.1212”
  • “two zero one five five five one two one two” OR “two zero one five five five 1212” OR “two zero one 555 one two one two” OR “two zero one 555 1212” OR “201 five five five one two one two” OR “201 five five five 1212” 

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. 

Other Lesser Used Operators: 
 

  • Cache Operator
  • Asterisk Operator (*)
  • Range Operator (..)
  • Related Operator
  • Info Operator

Cache Operator: 
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:
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. 

Range Operator:
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. 

Related Operator:
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:
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”. 

Conclusion:
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. 

 

Chapter 5: Amazing Google Products:
 

"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

Introduction:
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.

Google Alerts:
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:

  • Navigate to https://google.com/alerts/
  • Specify the search term in the search bar 
  • Tap on the drop down menu - “Show option”
  • Now select the following parameters for the most effective searches:
  1. How often: As it happens
  2. Sources: Automatic
  3. Language: (As suitable)
  4. Region: Any region/ India (As suitable)
  5. How many: All results
  6. Deliver to: Mail id

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.

What are the Web Archives? 
 

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”

 

Google Account Features:
 

Sign In And Security:

The Google account then provides several options for “2 Step verification “which include:

  • Google Prompt:This is the simplest 2 Step verification, requiring one simple tap on the prompt, that appears on the device screen. 
  • Voice or Text message:This is the standard 2 Step verification method similar to OTP of banks. Verification codes are sent by text message to the registered phone numbers.
  • Back-up codes:This is the least known “2 Step verification” method. If you lose your phone or otherwise unable to get codes via text, voice call or Google Authenticator, you can use the backup codes to sign-in. After you’ve used a backup code to sign-in, it becomes inactive. You can generate a new set of 10 codes whenever you want. After creating a new set, the old set automatically becomes inactive. Like the codes on the phone, these backup codes are only valuable to someone, if they also manage to steal the account’s password.
  • Authenticator App:The Authenticator App generates free verification codes, even when the phone is offline. It’s available for both Android and iPhone devices.

Find your Phone Feature:
 

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?

  • Ring your phone:This feature makes the phone ring at full volume even if muted.
  • Locate your phone:This feature collects the location data from the device and sends it to the owner. However, the location is approximate and may not always be accurate.
  • Lock Your Phone:This option enables the owner to setup a password to lock the phone. Owner can also write a customised note for the finder. The default note is “This phone is lost. Please help give it back”. Owner can also specify a phone number for the finder to call on, along with the aforesaid message. 
  • Sign Out of Your Phone:This option prevents others from accessing the phone data. Even after signing out of the phone, owner can – ring, locate, lock or erase the device.
  • Contact your operator:The operator may help by - disabling the SIM card, ordering a new SIM card or redirecting the calls to a new number. This also helps prevent identity theft since the finder can otherwise use the personal information for wrong ends. 
  • Erase Your Device:In our opinion this is the “option of the last resort”. This option prevents others from seeing the device data. However, if the owner chooses to erase the device information the owner permanently loses access to all of the information on that device that wasn’t backed up with Google.

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.