10 Networks Security Tools and Tests Everyone Should Use
Whether you are operating a home system, overseeing a small startup, or performing security governance for an enterprise, everyone can benefit from paying attention to security. This paper provides a list of 10 security tools or tests that will help you check out suspicious issues and keep ahead of new risks and threats.
At this point, everyone should be aware that security management is essential for everyone. Whether you are operating a home system, overseeing a small startup, or performing security governance for an enterprise, everyone can benefit from paying attention to security. I won't delve into the security basics here, such as:
- Always operate your computer as a regular user account, rather than an administrator
- Have a firewall on every system
- Keep your anti-malware and anti-spyware scanners up to date
- Avoid risky activities, such as opening attachments and downloading files from unknown sources
I assume that you have already addressed these concerns and want to know the next steps in the pursuit of a more secure computing system. To that end, I'm sharing a list of 10 security tools or security tests that everyone should know how to use. These are products and services that will assist you in confirming that your security is robust, checking out suspicious issues, and keeping ahead of new risks and threats.
Note: Most of the tools I recommend are Windows only. If you know of Mac or Linux solutions that offers similar functionality, please send me a message. Also, most of the items I list are free. Some have paid versions you might consider if you discover the free version is indispensible.
Once a system has been updated, configured, and otherwise "secured," the next step is to test and evaluate the established security. There are a wide range of security scanners and vulnerability assessment tools available. One of the best is Tenable's Nessus. For personal use, Nessus Home is free to use to scan up to 16 systems. Nessus Home offers a thorough security scanner, which assesses configurations, patches, malware, mobile devices, and more. The commercial version of Nessus is suitable for scanning enterprise networks. The Nessus Home product is just as robust, but not overly complex. The scan reports from Nessus are amazingly detailed. By following up on each issue discovered by Nessus Home, you are sure to improve your overall security stance.
Everyone encounters suspicious files from time to time. Files from unknown sources or that could be infected by malware. There are a number of online virus scanning services. Of these, VirusTotal is one of the best. To quote their own description, " VirusTotal, a subsidiary of Google, is a free online service that analyzes files and URLs enabling the identification of viruses, worms, trojans, and other kinds of malicious content detected by antivirus engines and website scanners."
VirusTotal maintains about 50 malware and spyware scanners, which you can use to check out files. You can either upload a file from your local system or provide a URL to a questionable file. In either case, VirusTotal will perform a real-time scan of the suspicious file and provide you with the results. You can use this free online service to keep your infection risk low. Since only a single real-time scanner can be run on your own local machine, having 50 scanners available for use is an invaluable asset. The range of different detection engines, scanning features, and custom definition databases amongst the wide range of anti-malware products can be brought to bear without having to maintain dozens of separate systems yourself.
Keeping current with patches and updates across all of the software on a computer can be quite challenging. Your operating system typically will automatically download and install new updates (a few of your applications likely do this as well). But not every installed application is able to auto-update. Those that do often run an additional background service that periodically checks for updates, but having dozens of these background services eats up system performance. I recommend replacing the one-off updater services with one solution that will keep all products current across your entire computer. That tool is Secunia PSI.
Secunia PSI (personal software inspector) regularly scans your system for applications, and then checks those applications against their available versions. If a new or updated version is available, Secunia PSI can automatically download and install the update or just notify you of its availability.