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Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov
You can slightly improve safety of your browsing (and increase your troubles ;-) by setting IE to high security in internet zone and setting medium level for "trusted sites" (say Amazon, Hotmail, Youtube) and/or using Firefox for important for all other sites that does not display correctly with this arrangement (including all downloads).
Among recommended setting:
The InPrivate feature allows browsing the internet without leaving traces on a local machine. Behavior of the browser changes only for the InPrivate session, thus if user has had standard window open, its history would be stored as normal, whereas the activity within the stealth mode window would be discarded. InPrivate Browsing changes the behavior in the following way:
New temporary Internet files will be deleted after the Private Browsing window is closed. They are stored on disk so pages work correctly, but deleted when you close the browser.
In addition to Facebook which is an information collection site masquerading
as a social site, many legitimate sites and programs now have snooping components
and connect to "mothership" periodically to transmit some information from your
computer. So line between spyware and legitimate programs gradually becomes
more and more fuzzy. For example programs developed by Goggle (Google
toolbar, Chrome, etc) also have a huge appetite for collecting information
about your browsing activities, especially if you login as Google user so that
activity can be associated with your account. It looks like with Google++
Google business model is not that different from Facebook and that's why that
promote Google Groups++ as there is no tomorrow.
Periodic cleaning of cookies (for example by using free CCcleaner) also helps to preserve your privacy and should be scheduled as a weekly activity. It is also possible to preserved just selected cookies for the sites you trust as cookies are often used to simplify authentication to the site. At least this shows all those jerks who collect information on you who is in control :-). Requires some discipline but can be implemented by all Windows users. Stronger version of this defense uses browser of am second (possibly virtual) PC (see below).
This paper is written first for my own consumption -- in order to understand better security issues in IE and Firefox. What I discovered with some dismay that most users, including myself are by-and-large ignorant as for security mechanism available in browsers and do not understand the features of provided mechanism, for example "In private browsing mode in IE. Gradually I started to understand that using two browser instead of one represent cheap and effective security mechanism in itself almost without detailed considerations of strong or weak points for each browser. I chose IE as my "secure browser" simply because it is very easy to do so -- you just enable high security mode in it. In less secure modes that allows running Active-X it proved to be an open door for malware. Then I created a keyboard macro that copes URL to the Firefox and each time I accidentally hit the site on which I need run scripts I used this macro to switch to Firefox.
After several refinements my initial notes written for myself acquire shape in which they might benefit others as well. Please take into account that this is still quite raw notes.
We will discuss the IE version 8 and Firefox version 14. These versions are definitely preferable to older one although IE 9 should probably be used on Windows 7.
As with any product the real issues are the level of technologies used against
malware. Currently IE provides better environment for browsing in "high security
mode". Firefox has add-ons NoScript that provides more granular per site controls.
With NoScript, I can allow individual sites that I trust to run script content in
my browser only when I need it, while defaulting to disallowing scripts for all
others. This is more difficult to do in IE. You need explicitly put sites in high
security zone to prohibit running scripts and that should be your default security
stetting for Internet zone (Web is a dangerous place with the among of malware now
circulating, and your setting should reflect this simple fact). Default setting
for trusted sites (which I understand as sites included as your favorites) should
be medium-high. Any important site that "is uncomfortable" with those settings can
be viewed in Firefox.
Firefox also remains lower profile target then IE. Although share of IE dropped recently, this low profile status of Firefox still is preserved. It's still a lower profile target than IE. As many exploits are Adobe acrobat and other plug-ins exploits this does not buy you much security but being lower profile target is always good. As for built-in security feature Firefox remains by-and-large stagnant and IE is a better choice as for built-in protections.
Also Firefox developers are open source developers and as such they generally resent collecting information about the users so it is more suitable browser for your favorite sites. This is not one of the development goals as in the case with commercial browsers developers. That makes Firefox somewhat better choice then IE from the point of view of privacy, although IE is not as bad as Chrome. At one time Google tried to redirect each of the search results to itself and that means it crossed the creepy line (see How Google crossed the creepy line - Telegraph)
In Google it can ne presented like:
... ... ...
Would be presented in Bing as
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/8086191/How-Google-crossed-the-creepy-line.htmlAs Telegraph aptly put it "Google crossed the creepy line"
In this paper I will argue that using two browsers one (IE) configured with high security and the other Firefox has just NoScript plug-in installed and used to browse trusted sites provides higher level of security, the level unachievable by a single browser alone.
Both browsers clearly need improvement is certain security-related areas but using them in tandem creates an opportunity to use stronger features of each.
Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers : Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy
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Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law
Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds : Larry Wall : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOS : Programming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC development : Scripting Languages : Perl history : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history
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