The web browser is probably the most essential application on your PC; there is no better practical way of staying connected to news, your friends, and most importantly, the lulz. But whether you’re using Internet Explorer or newly minted Chrome, each of today's popular web browsers has different strengths and weaknesses. Mozilla Firefox is feature-heavy and relatively fast, but can get terribly unwieldy when crammed with juicy add-ons. The newest version of the once dominant Internet Explorer is a quantum leap above previous buggy versions, but remains slow. And while both Opera and Google Chrome are blazingly fast, they currently lack customization.
No matter which browser you use, you want it to fit your personal needs and tastes. With this guide, we will show you the essential initial tweaks everyone should make to “awesomize” their browser. Whether it’s accelerating browser page-load performance, boosting security, or just improving the look of the interface, we teach you the tweaks that we think should be implemented the first time you start up a browser after installation.
We cover comprehensive step-by-step instructions for Internet Explorer 8, Mozilla Firefox 3, Opera 9, and Google Chrome, starting off with general web optimization tips. So jump into the guide and start tweaking your web browser!
Over Easter weekend, many Twitter fans were getting worms instead of finding Easter Eggs, as the developer of a rival microblogging site (StalkDaily), one 17-year-old Michael "Mikeyy" Mooney, was busy drawing Twitter users to his site through infected links and Twitter profiles. According to PCWorld and the Twitter status page, the infection has now been brought under control. But inquiring minds want to know, "what happened?" and "how can we stop a future attack?"
Doing a Google search for "Mikeyy" or "TwitterWorm" isn't the best way to find out, though, as the F-Secure security blog points out that fake news sites are being used to infect curious searchers with (unrelated) malware. To get the real scoop, join us after the jump.
Streetlights didn't stop working, satellites never fell from orbit, and the internet didn't spontaneously combust. So what exactly did the Conficker.c worm manage to accomplish? Up till now, the answer is 'not much,' but Trend Micro warns the worm has started making its move.
It's been just over a week since Conficker.c was supposed to turn machines against man in an epic battle not even Will Smith (the actor, not the Editor-in-Chief) would be able to defeat, and while we can probably put such related fears to rest, Trend Micro security researchers say machines already infected with the worm have begun receiving a new payload through P2P. The payload is being detected as WORM_DOWNAD.E.
"Basically the component it's downloading via peer-to-peer is just a dropper -- so it drops yet another component, which we are in the process of finalizing analysis on now," Trend Micro researcher Paul Ferguson said in a conversation with eWEEK. "It looks like it has some rootkit capabilities, but beyond that right now I can't go into any additional detail, I don't have complete information in front of me."
Conficker.c received much media attention prior to April 1st, when the worm was expected to wreak all kinds of havoc. But April Fool's Day has come and gone without much movement from the worm, which either means the threat was grossly overblown, or its writers are waiting for the dust to settle.
The Conficker worm has been generating the big security headlines, but what The New York Times calls a "vast electronic spying operation" reveals an ongoing, very sophisticated cyberespionage campaign that may well represent an even more important threat than Conficker - especially to the Dalai Lama's Tibetan freedom movement.
Researchers at the University of Toronto Munk Center's Citizen Lab summarize GhostNet thus:
Documented evidence of a cyber espionage network— GhostNet—infecting at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, of which close to 30% can be considered as high-value diplomatic, political, economic, and military targets.
Documented evidence of GhostNet penetration of computer systems containing sensitive and secret information at the private offces of the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan targets.
Documentation and reverse engineering of the modus operandi of the GhostNet system—including vectors, targeting, delivery mechanisms, data retrieval and control systems—reveals a covert, diffcult-to-detect and elaborate cyber-espionage system capable of taking full control of affected systems.
To find out more about how GhostNet works, join us after the jump.
Microsoft's latest browser, Internet Explorer 8, has gotten mixed reviews from MaximumPC.com readers (see comments here and here), but one question that's hard for any individual user to answer about any browser is "how secure is it?"
To find out, Microsoft asked NSS Labs to pit IE8 RC1 against its predecessor, IE7, as well as the following third-party browsers: Firefox 3.0.7, Safari 3.2, Chrome 1.0.154, and Opera 9.64. The objective: find out which browser did the best job at handling so-called social-engineering malware sites - the ones that try to con you into downloading malware disguised as something else ("Adobe Flash update," anyone?).
ComputerWorldreports that IE8 did the best job of fending off attacks from 492 malware-distributing websites, blocking 69% of attacks (details here [PDF link]). If you're not using IE8, join us after the jump to learn how your favorite browser fared.
Online beguilers are leaving no stone unturned in propagating malware. They have shown remarkable pliancy in adapting themselves to the ever-evolving cyber landscape. They have realized that the best places to ply their diabolical trade are the ones with massive traffic. As nothing rivals social websites in popularity, such cyber haunts have endeared themselves to malware authors.
Ironically, the French had been warned as far back as October to harden their systems, but as we reported last month, millions of PCs hadn't yet been protected by installing KB958644. How bad was the infection, and how was it spread? Hit your afterburners and join us after the jump for details.
When it comes to PC security, you already know the drill: Don't download unknown attachments, avoid clicking on suspicious links, log directly into your online accounts rather than follow a hyperlink, and so forth. These methods work well when dealing with virtual threats, but what happens when miscreants start meshing their malware tricks into the real world?
That's exactly what's going on in North Dakota, where some hybrid car owners have fell victim to fake parking citations left on the windshield. The citations read "PARKING VIOLATION. This vehicle is in violation of standard parking regulations. To view pictures with information about your parking preferences, go to ______," where the blank is filled in with a malicious website. Those who go the website are instructed to download a toolbar to view photos of the ticketed car, but it instead installs a Trojan along with a bogus security alert instructing victims to install a fake antivirus scanner.
On January 31, you may have thought the entire internet had fallen prey to what would have ranked as the fastest spreading worm in the history of the web. That's because for about an hour on Saturday morning, all Google search results were flagged with a warning saying "This site may harm your computer," including Google.com. Clicking a marked site would bring up yet another warning.
So what exactly happened? Well, it wasn't a worm, and the internet wasn't under attack (no more than usual, anyway). Instead, Google said it ultimately boiled down to human error.
"Unfortunately (and here's the human error), the URL of '/' was mistakenly checked in as a value to the file and '/' expands to all URLs," Google explained on its blog. "Fortunately, our on-call site reliability team found the problem quickly and reverted the file. Since we push these updates in a staggered and rolling fashion, the errors began appearing between 6:27 a.m. and 6:40 a.m. and began disappearing between 7:10 and 7:25 a.m., so the duration of the problem for any particular user was approximately 40 minutes."
Google initially said it gets its list of malicious URLs from StopBadware.org, which StopBadware.org said isn't true. After several updates, Google's final statement says it "works with a non-profit called StopBadware.org to come up with criteria for maintaining this list," but that fault untimately fell on Google.