January 01, 2013

Because I keep hearing about this - part 3

Part 1 is here.
Part 2 is here.

Before we get to browsers, let me follow up with a comment Pam had about Malwarebytes and Spybot.  Part of the problem with putting protective software in place is that it very often does not play nicely together.  Spybot was very good back in the day (the early 2000's), but even then it was notorious for not playing nice with other AV software.  Spybot and Adaware used to try and turn each other off.  It was no end of a headache. That's why I no longer use it and haven't since I moved off WinNT (maybe around 2004?).  It's finicky, I have no idea if it does anything at all (although I see a few vocals supporters out there - there are very few) but mostly it just doesn't behave nicely with other security options. 

Use it if you want, I won't tell you not to, but be aware you may be causing extra problems for yourself for little or no gain in security.  In this case "less is more".  The fewer security programs you have running, the better off you are.  Personally I have no problem with slowdown from running Malwarebytes, but YMMV. Much depends on your system. There are too many variables to say exactly what the differences might be.


Now lets move onto browsers.  No matter your flavor of browser the first thing you should do is go to Web of Trust and download their add-on for your particular browser.  This will give you a visual indication of whether or not a site is okay to visit.   (there is a colorblind option available in the addon settings! this is essential if you are red/green colorblind).  When you are searching for something or you see a link from a friend on facebook, you will have at least some idea of whether or not the site is okay.  The red warning dot next to a bad link may stop you from going to a bad site and ending up with malware.

The next thing you need to get is adblock plus.  (the link is for the version that works with Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, K-melon, and Android).  Safari has its own version that is not bad but not quite as good as the FF version. Look for it in the Safari addon section. 

Unfortunately, there is no good option for Internet Explorer.  However, there is a kind of so-so workaround described in this article. If you must use IE or you prefer it, then check the article for the InPrivate Browsing section. It might help... some.

Why block ads?  Because far too often, even on trusted sites, ads are used to spread malware.  Most of the ads you see are provided by third party providers.  The site itself has little or no control over content, nor do they check the content to see if there is malware in the ads.  (it's even hard to get them to pay attention to any complaints about such things)

If you use an ad blocker and one of the ads has malware... it doesn't matter.  The malware never reaches your computer so your tools don't even need to kick in. Makes life so much easier.  That and the lack of flashes and blinks makes it all worthwhile.

The last thing you should do (except on Google Chrome where this is not an issue) go to the addon menu and make sure that the Java addon for your browser is disabled if it exists.  This way you won't pick up any Java related bugs floating around.  I won't tell you to get rid of Java. I've run across too many instances where Java is used in other programs.  So rather than remove Java completely, disabling it gives you the option to use it where needed.

Of all the browsers I would say IE has the most problems.  It's still the one hackers want to get and it doesn't have a good adblock which makes it a non-starter for me.  Microsoft has come a long way in securing IE. It's much better than it was, but the other options out there are better. 

I think that's enough for one post.  Tomorrow we'll move on to some of the regular software on your computer. 

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 09:46 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 I didn't know about Spybot's loss of reliability, thanks!  I'll ditch it and return to Malwarebytes.

Posted by: Pam at January 05, 2013 07:45 AM (VZULe)

2 Pam, depending on how busy I am at any given time, I get very lackadaisical about my posting.  Of course I think the spybot thing is more one of attrition.  I kinda just stepped away from it and didn't think about it anymore.  Now that I read up on it again, it doesn't tempt me to go back to it at all, especially remembering all the irritations it caused back in the day.  I accepted them at the time since there was nothing better, but it's tiring to fight all the time with software.

Posted by: Teresa at January 05, 2013 11:34 AM (hJwgq)

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