Posts Tagged ‘ Firefox ’


NSS Labs recently released the results and analysis from its latest Browser Security Comparative Analysis Report, which evaluated the ability of eight leading browsers — Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Kingsoft Liebao, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Qihoo 360 Safe Browser, and Sogou Explorer — to block against socially engineered malware (SEM). The use of social engineering to distribute malware continues to account for the bulk of cyber attacks against both consumers and enterprises, thereby making a browser’s ability to protect against these kinds of attacks an important criterion for personal or corporate use.

Microsoft Internet Explorer continues to outperform other browsers. With an average block rate of 99.9 percent, the highest zero-hour block rate, fastest average time to block, and highest consistency of protection over time percentages, Internet Explorer leads in all key test areas.

Google Chrome remained in the top three, but its average block rate fell significantly to 70.7 percent, down from 83.17 percent in the previous test.

Cloud-based endpoint protection (EPP) file scanning provides substantial defenses when integrated with the browser. Kingsoft Liebao browser utilizes the same cloud-based file scanning system used by Kingsoft antivirus and had the second highest overall block rate at 85.1 percent, ahead of Chrome by almost 15 percentage points.

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Google’s Safe Browsing API does not provide adequate SEM protection. Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox both utilize the Google Safe Browsing API and were the two lowest performing browsers in this latest test. Both also saw significant drops of around 6 percent in their average block rates — Safari from 10.15 percent to 4.1 percent and Firefox from 9.92 percent to 4.2 percent.

Chinese browsers tested for the first time prove viable. This year, three browsers from China were included in testing for the first time, and Kingsoft’s Liebao browser jumped ahead of Google Chrome with an overall protection rate of 85.1 percent. Sogou Explorer had the fourth highest average block rate at 60.1 percent.

Commentary: NSS Labs Research Director Randy Abrams
“Selecting a browser with robust socially engineered malware protection is one of the most critical choices consumers and enterprises can make to protect themselves. Microsoft’s SmartScreen Application Reputation technology continues to provide Internet Explorer the most effective protection against socially engineered malware,” said Randy Abrams, Research Director at NSS Labs. “This year NSS added three browsers from China. The Kingsoft Liebao browser displaced Chrome from second place by using a combination of URL filtering with the cloud-based file scanning technology that Kingsoft uses for their antivirus product. Sogou Explorer, another browser from China, was the only other tested browser to exceed 50 percent protection against socially engineered malware. Firefox and Safari failed to achieve five percent effectiveness and leave less technical users at considerable risk.”

NSS Labs recommendations
Learn to identify social engineering attacks in order to maximize protection against SEM and other social engineering attacks.
Use caution when sharing links from friends and other trusted contacts, such as banks. Waiting just one day before clicking on a link can significantly reduce risk.
Enterprises should review current security reports when selecting a browser. Do not assume the browser market is static.

First look: Opera 12 ups the ante

Written by admin
July 26th, 2012

The latest release of Opera has some obvious cosmetic and UI changes, as well as several new under-the-hood functions. Overall, here are 12 changes worth noting.

Plug-ins run as separate processes
Plug-ins in Opera 12 now function as processes separate from the browser’s main operation. This is meant to provide better overall stability against plug-ins that are badly written or happen to crash, and to thwart any malicious ones devised to compromise security. Under this new architecture, if a plug-in misbehaves, Opera 12 will shut it down and continue running.

Do not track
Opera 12 can be set to prevent all websites from tracking your browsing activity, or only ones you specify. To turn this feature on to stop all websites from tracking, you go to Settings > Preferences > Advanced > Security and check “Ask websites not to track me.” Blocking a specific site from tracking you requires that you first visit it, right-click over a blank spot of the page, select “Edit site preferences” from the pop-up menu, Network, and then put in a check by “Ask websites not to track me.”


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64-bit processor support
To further increase its speed, Opera 12 now takes advantage of computers running 64-bit processors with 64-bit versions of Windows or Mac OS X. This makes Opera the first of the major web browsers to have a simultaneous 64-bit release alongside its 32-bit version for both platforms.

Hardware acceleration
Opera 12 supports WebGL and can use the graphics processor in your computer to further give a performance boost. However, these are currently tagged as experimental features, so both are turned off by default. To activate WebGL, you enter opera:config in the browser’s address bar, select User Prefs and enter “1” in the “Enable WebGL” box. For hardware acceleration, set “Enable Hardware Acceleration” to “1.”

Easier and faster theme changing
Changing the look (theme) of Opera 12 is a quick one-click process, and it doesn’t require a restart of the browser. Right-click on a blank area on the new tab/speed dial page, select Appearance, and choose a new theme in the pop-up window.

Easier to see security badges
In the address bar, the security badges to the left of a URL have been redesigned, which includes color coding, to make
them easier to see and interpret the privacy setting for the website you’re browsing.

Address field improvements and enhancements
Additions and fixes implemented into Opera 12’s address field include: Improved search term and URL suggestions are listed as you type, and also appear in the address bar drop-down window; smart URL shortening is now listed in the address field drop-down; URL and page content columns shown in this drop-down are now combined; and a URL’s page title and an excerpt from it are used for displaying full-page search results.

Webcam support through HTML5

Opera 12 now supports the WebRTC architecture for webcams, which allows real-time communication (RTC) between two users with webcams. WebRTC is an open project that uses HTML5 and JavaScript code to accomplish this, and is also officially supported by Google for its Chrome browser and Mozilla for Firefox.

Drag-and-drop through HTML5
Another HTML5 component bringing new robustness to Opera is the capability for a web page to include elements (such as text or files) that the user can drag and drop onto another page, or from the desktop onto the page.

Extensions can control tabs and windows
Extensions in Opera 12 are now permitted to interact with browser windows and tabs (or groups of tabs). For example, an extension can be written to open or close a browser window or tab. Obviously, this raises the spectre of malicious or untrusted sites cluttering up your browser with windows and tabs you don’t want opening, but is necessary to allow legitimate sites to have, such as web apps.

Right-to-left language support
Opera 12’s UI automatically mirrors itself when displaying right-to-left languages Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu, if your Windows or Linux computer is set to one of these language. The direction of the UI is determined by the direction of the language. Under one of these four languages, the sidebar, for example, which is normally set on the left side of the browser will be placed along the right.

Opera Unite and widgets phased out
The little-used features Opera Unite and widgets have been deactivated by default in Opera 12. Unite actually was innovative: It let you set up your computer to function as a server through Opera. Unite was promoted prominently as a main attraction for using Opera when it was first introduced, but for some reason it never caught on with users. Widgets are being phased out in part to remove users’ confusion with extensions, and developers of Opera widgets are being encouraged to write extensions instead. The code for these two lays dormant in Opera 12, but will be removed from upcoming versions of the browser.

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Should your small business virtualize?

Written by admin
October 30th, 2011

Virtualization is one of the hottest IT topics today. Everyone’s talking about it, but few are really doing it — and there’s a big gulf between enterprise and small business adoption, even though many of the benefits are the same. Small business is one of my favorite technology segments, because of its diversity, unique needs, large size, yet small IT footprint. When working as an analyst during the mid-Noughties I launched JupiterResearch’s SMB practice. I’ve been remiss by not writing more about small business tech at BetaNews.

 

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There is much confusion about what is a small business — how official statisticians and high-tech vendors segment sizes. Small businesses account for 97 percent of employee firms, according to US government agencies. But that segmentation counts firms with fewer than 500 employees as small business — large by my measure — and ignores the enormous number of operations with non-payroll employees. This segment is often overlooked by high-tech vendors, many of which count them as consumers. By the US Census Bureau’s reckoning, there are nearly 27.3 million small businesses, but only 5.9 million have payrolls and 3.62 million employ fewer than five people. So there are 21.4 million businesses employing less than 5 people — that’s 78 percent of them.

Integrated Approach

For JupiterResearch, I segmented small businesses differently. Small is small. Companies with less than 50 employees counted as small businesses, those with fewer than 10 employees as very small businesses and those with no payroll employees were sole proprietorships. It’s typical for business owners in this segment to run their establishments on the side or to have more than one operation. I am surprised to see how few high-tech firms address the unique needs of very small businesses or sole proprietorships.

Among PC manufacturers, HP and Dell stand out for their small business offerings, for no other reason than size, being No. 1 and No. 2 in global shipments, according to Gartner and IDC. But both vendors are going through dramatic realignments. Earlier this summer, HP announced plans to either sell off or spin off its PC division, separating it from valuable services necessary to support business needs of all sizes. Today, HP made the decision to keep its PC division.

Dell’s changes are different, as the company makes the cloud, virtualization and supporting services priorities. Dell’s emphasis is integration — one place for software, hardware and services. IBM also is good at vertical integration but Big Blue sold its PC business to Lenovo years ago. Meanwhile IBM defines small businesses by the thousands of employees, which to most other vendors would qualify as enterprises. HP also is big on services, but uncertainty about the future of its PC business (including x86 servers) and recent CEO changes create competitive opportunities.

Dell, which has long had strong small business offerings, is trying to seize the opportunity and also take its renewed integration focus to mid-size and large organizations. Forrester analyst Richard Fichera says the company is “really trying to change its image. Old Dell was boxes, discounts and low-cost supply chain. New Dell is applications, solution, cloud (now there’s a surprise!) and investments in software and integration. OK, good image, but what’s the reality? All in all, I think they are telling the truth about their intentions, and their investments continue to be aligned with these intentions”.

Virtualization Interest

The “new Dell”, as Fichera calls it, has been hot pushing cloud computing and virtualization solutions to small businesses. While writing this post I wondered why? The cloud is plain as day, but virtualizaton? Cisco, Microsoft and VMWare are among the many other vendors looking at this segment, too. But is that small business by that 499 employees, lesser number or something really small? Do the smallest of the lot even need virtualization?

There surely is interest. In August, Symantec published the “Small Business Virtualization Poll”. The security firm surveyed 658 small businesses with 5 to 249 employees in 28 countries. Symantec found that “70 percent of the small businesses surveyed are considering virtualization”, but only “10 percent have deployed virtualized servers, and another 17 percent are now doing so. This leaves 43 percent in technology trials or discussions”. Thirty-percent aren’t considering virtualization at all.

Top-three applications being virtualized: Web, database management and email/calendaring. Who does the work for the small business, whether those with dedicated IT organizations or small shops where the business owner oversees tech? For 58 percent of small businesses, its the “hardware or software vendor’s professional services organization”, which makes lots of sense of Dell and other PC manufacturers focusing more on providing small businesses with vertically integrated hardware, software and services.

Small businesses’ top two reasons for virtualizing are about money: “reduce capital expense” (70 percent) and “reduce operating expense” (68 percent), which doesn’t surprise given economic crises in Europe and North America. No 3: “Use less servers for the same amount of applications”. Surely server consolidation matters more to companies with larger numbers of employees than those with fewer. But Symantec didn’t provide the important granular view — priorities of businesses with 5 employees versus 249.

The Mobile Problem

Small businesses all share two common problems not revealed by Symantec’s poll, which offers too many enterprise-like reasons to small businesses to choose from: Proliferation of mobile devices and the mixing of personal and corporate data. Virtualization can help solve both these problems, which I’d argue are more pronounced in the smallest businesses — the ones not represented at all by Symnatec’s survey or as strong sales segment focuses by many vendors selling hardware, software or services (if not all three).

In my experience as an analyst and journalist, non-payroll operations typically use the same devices for personal and professional purposes — there is tremendous overlap of data and behavior. This situation is pervasive among very small businesses, too, with tight tech budgets being one reason. Perhaps an employee uses a personal laptop for work purposes or the small business lets the worker use the official-issue notebook personally. Personal and professional data also commingles on smartphones and tablets. Larger operations share similar problems, but more because of so-called “consumerization of IT”, where workers bring in personal devices like tablets. Stronger IT management mitigates the extent compared to smaller shops where there is no dedicated IT person or someone else, often the small business owner, wears two hats.

Businesses of all sizes suffer from the larger mobility problem — data leaving the safe confines of the firewall on all kinds portable devices — laptops, smartphones and tablets, among them. These devices can become infected with malware or be lost or stolen — creating unnecessary privacy and security risks. Cloud services and virtualization can help small businesses keep precious data where it belongs and mitigate the risks when devices are lost or stolen.

Server virtualization has led the way for providing this kind of service, but some vendors are adding client virtuatization and privately hosted web services to the mix. For example, Intel is taking this approach for its IT infrastructure, because employees want to use a broader range of devices, “including personally owned smartphones and tablets”. Obviously, Intel is no small business but its approach to virtualization as a solution to the two aforementioned problems could be applied on smaller scale. You can download the white paper here.

Circling back to the question: Should your small business virtualize? Probably yes. For the smallest of businesses, that could be in tandem with setting up a private cloud or outsourcing purely cloud services like Office 365 and Salesforce.com. The smallest businesses get something they also probably don’t have now — centralized IT management. The case for operations with 10 or more employees is stronger, whether to consolidate servers, better manage applications, reduce costs, provide employees anytime, anywhere access or separate personal and professional workspaces on the same devices.