A Defensive Computing Checklist    by Michael Horowitz
NOTE: I gave a presentation on Defensive Computing at the HOPE conference in July 2022
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SEARCH ENGINES

Scams are showing up at the top of online searches by By Geoffrey Fowler for the Washington Post (September 2022). To be clear, this is nothing new. The article discusses Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo. Quoting: "The core issue is that many search ads are sold through self-service systems, where advertisers don't necessarily need to be authorized or have their links checked by humans. The bad guys sometimes try to create thousands of accounts simultaneously, in the hopes that a few get through." The author interviewed someone from Google who refused to say what percent of their advertisers are currently verified. Microsoft, which provides both ads and search results for DuckDuckGo was no more forthcoming.

Search engine StartPage gets its results from Google and claims not to record your search history.

I used to suggest DuckDuckGo, but no more. One reason is that they get their results from Bing. Another reason is that they do not filter out bulls..t as well as Google does. See Fed Up With Google, Conspiracy Theorists Turn to DuckDuckGo New York Times (Feb 2022) and Top 5 Private Search Engines by Security Trails (Dec. 2019).

GOOGLE SEARCH

Minimize Google tracking by not being signed in to Google when making queries. You can tell if you are signed in by checking the upper right corner of the screen (see screen shots). A single letter in a circle means you are signed in, a blue "Sign in" button means you are not. Google prefers that you not do this.

SafeSearch can filter explicit content from Google search results. To keep SafeSearch turned on and prevent users from turning it off, there is lock SafeSearch. Lock SafeSearch for accounts, devices & networks you manage by Google.

As of April 2022, you can ask Google to remove sensitive personal information from its search results.

  1. Remove your personal information from Google from Google (undated)
  2. Remove your personal information from Google from Google (undated)
  3. How to Remove Your Personal Info From Google's Search Results by Reece Rogers (May 2022)

Coming October 2022: The Android Google app will have a new option that should help you remove your personal data from Google searches. Open the app, click your profile and look for the new "Results about you" option. The Android Google app dated Sept 28, 2022 does not yet include this option.

BING SEARCH

I have blogged about Bing a couple times. The first time was because they removed my RouterSecurity.org website from their search results. See Banned by Bing (April 26, 2021). Then, after the site was restored it was not in its usual top spot when searching for "Router Security". No big deal, but the top search result was a really miserable article, which prompted another blog from me: Bing prefers miserable Router Security advice (May 15, 2021).

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