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Surfing with your Pant's down. (More Techno-Waffles..)

Updated on March 14, 2011

Insight

Well, as you may have noticed Google's Chrome Browser has become increasingly popular what with Google pouring it's resources over Android, Search Engines, China and its other Internet Related Activities and Business. So, I was always weary of this Browser and yes I use it however I use it in a secured 'Sandbox' environment unconnected to any of my main Boxes*. I knew Chrome was vulnerable as some of my work is based in Computer Technology and Security (deliberately being vague here..) and I had been able to catch a veritable cavalcade of Nasty things whilst using Chrome

Then as I was browsing Security related Web Sites I also read an article reporting that Google's Chrome is in the top ten of the Most Vulnerable Programs Period! (Reference: HERE) However in the right Circumstances Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera and all the Browsers are open to Attack but, awareness and being pro-active is always the best policy and mind-set to have. The Days of Destroying Windows through Internet Explorer are gone, well okay not really but it is much harder to do for the average Kiddie Script Writer. One wrong click and you still open yourself up to hours of Frustration and for the Average user the 'Re-install OS' option becomes the quick, easy option. Having a regular incremental System Back-up also becomes very much an issue/option at this point as does doing a System Restore for Windows users.

In the Tradition of most Infections the sub-system, restore partition become a veritable host for the both the Delivery system and the actual Payload. Windows is a classic for having the Infection(s) sit happily in the Restore Partition so when a User switched back to an earlier configuration or did a System Restore the Nasty was also re-instated and re-activated.

It's all doom and gloom!

No, not really, like I said above with the correct tools and knowledge the impact of all these Coders with malicious intent can be kept to a bare minimum. Let's all Jump into Linux! Sure Linux in all its flavors is great. I, myself am a user of Linux Mint and Fedora and indeed it is a pretty solid and secure solution but it still lacks some things I need and thus my reliance on Windows Remains intact (at the time of writing this Article..). I don't want to turn this article into a Linux Debate either so let's get back on Subject.

Click!

Okay, back to Browsers, Operating Systems and Nasty Drive-by Installs..

Apple once touted its OS as being rock-solid and air-tight and now I am sure Apple regrets taking that stance because it attracted the eyes and attentions of those programmers making the nastiest of nasty code and in the best fashion they took up the challenge and now Mac users are well aware that their little baby is as prone as the other guys 'baby' too.

I hope Chrome does evolve into something solid, stead-fast and easy to use, Like Mozilla's Firefox Browser it deserves to do well and until such a time it is rock-solid I shall stay with Firefox, a Secure DNS Server and a few very useful Add-on's and so far I've caught nothing in the past year or so unless it was a deliberate action on my own part to bait and analyze the latest nasty doing it's rounds on the Internet.

What are Fly-by and Drive-by installs ?

You can find out more at these Sites: HERE, HERE and HERE. They explain in detail several types and several Scenarios where Fly-by, Drive-by Installs are used and utilized.

What is a Secure DNS? Where do I get one? What do I need to do!

Okay now of course there are services that supply Anonymous Surfing, Secure DNS servers and a whole plethora of Services to help slow down your Browsing and Secure your Browsers. Okay, so not all of them Slow it down! (only some..). For Microsoft Windows Users (for this Article we'll state 'From Windows XP through to Windows 7 ) there's a multitude of 'Internet Security' Products. Some great and some not-so-great.

References: Top 10 Firewalls (Windows), Top Max Security Programs (Mac), Best Security Suites (Windows) and it goes on and on..

Which one!?

'An operating system is the program that controls all the other parts of a computer system - both the hardware and the software. Most importantly, it allows you to make use of the facilities provided by the system. Every computer has an operating system.'

That depends on your Operating System, Level of the User (YOU!) and Where and Why you Surf (Personal, Business, at place of Business!, or at home). The Windows Operating System has an overwhelming amount of Software to protect your little investment and thing of so much personal pleasure(!?). We have Norton this, Zone Alarm that, BitDefender, Kaspersky, NOD32, AVG, Avast and a whole lot more. Some are Great! some are not!

However, I'm going to stick to the fundamentals and not expose my own suite of choice (unless, you send me a large amount of money..ahem ). Secure DNS, OpenDNS and DNS Servers! Comodo has a nice Secure DNS server (Oops, Shameless Promo..Sorry! ) and you can read a little more about Open DNS HERE however that's half the battle. If you are going to Surf web sites of a questionable nature then you are indeed asking for something nasty to pay your Box of Wonder a visit.

So what do you need to be aware of?

Script Blocking, Java and ActiveX Blocking, Open Ports, Open Shares and much more! Mozilla's Firefox for example, has a great set of free (and not-so-free) add-on that really help in Stopping these Nasties getting at your System. Adblock Plus, Flash Block, NoScript, WOT and many more and if you install an Internet Security Package like BitDefender, Kaspersky, AVG or any number of the other packages it's a good bet they also install their own Add-on into Firefox and Internet Explorer for additional Protection.

For me, when I am on my Windows Box I personally use Comodo's Firewall (not the whole Security Package..) and it has been rock-steady and a solid Firewall for years. It also comes with (Tada!) a Secure DNS service which is FREE it also comes with several levels of protection from Home Users through to Corporate/Enterprise level Users. That coupled with a certain Anti-virus Package and the Add-on added to my Browser of choice (Firefox) I enjoy a safe browsing experience.

So to recap, For Windows I use Firefox+Addons, an Anti-virus Package, a Rock-Solid Firewall and a Secure DNS Service. I could of course write a whole new Article on Anti-virus packages, Firewall Packages and so on but, I will offer up a FEW of my recommendations (For Windows Users) so you can do some further research. In order of preference, Versatility, Options and most important it's ability to carry out its primary functions.


Anti-Virus Packages (Some of these are all-in-one Security Packages..)

Kaspersky Internet Security and/or Anti-Virus (only)

ESET Smart Security 4 / and/or Anti-Virus (only)

VIPRE Anti-Virus

Comodo Internet Security (Free and PRO Editions)


Firewall Packages

Comodo Firewall


So, for Windows these are my Recommendations with only one Firewall being mentioned you can figure out which one is the best from my point of view. Sure, there are others like Zone Alarm Pro, F-Secure, Panda and others all worthy of a mention but from testing over and over again Comodo's Baby is the best of the best (Yes, Biased opinion..). So the Browser of your own Choice is not the only element in this puzzle, a puzzle that is solved by you having a secure air-tight system that is both usable and secure and indeed, it is a fine line to balance usability and functionality without bringing your system to a grinding Halt. Believe me there are some and most veteran Technicians know which one I am talking about...

Where to Start! Without spending a penny!?

There's plenty of Freeware and 30 day Trial Software out there, most of the major Software Houses offer Trials and Free Editions, like AVG, Comodo, Kaspersky, Eset and many more.

Is Free always Good?

"Something is better, than nothing.." ~ is the phrase I like to apply here. AVG whilst not being the best of the best, it is indeed another to protect the average user from most of the Nasties out there.

You can check out some of the choices/Options: HERE and HERE. If however, you still have questions and/or concerns, or you get conflicting opinions you can always ask me and I will always provide sound, and if answering a question, unbiased information and answers..


* Box = Geek/Guru Terminology for Self-Designed and Self-Constructed Computers (i.e. Hybrid)


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