Protect Privacy in Google Search – GoogleSharing Firefox Addon

Google is the undisputed leader of present day web technologies. With some of the most popular, useful and free web services like Google Search, GMail, Feedburner, Orkut, YouTube etc. under its belt, it collects an astonishing amount of personal data about you and your preferences.

It is sometime chilling for any security enthusiast, just to know the vast amount of data, which Google possesses about a user. And these privacy issues get more important when you learn that some of the most disciplined and sophisticated hack attacks like operation Aurora are targeted towards Google.

How To Protect Privacy and Use Google Search

GoogleSharing is a service, which allows you to safeguard your privacy and use Google web searches at the same time.

GoogleSharing is a system that mixes the requests of many different users together, such that Google is not capable of telling what is coming from whom. GoogleSharing aims to do a few very specific things:

  1. Provide a system that will prevent Google from collecting information about you from services which don’t require a login.
  2. Make this system completely transparent to the user. No special websites, no change to your work flow.
  3. Leave your non-Google traffic completely untouched, unredirected, and unaffected.

The use of GoogleSharing is easy. You have just to download a Firefox Addon and start using it. [Warning: It is still in the experimental stage and has not yet undergone the usual public review process of Firefox Addons. Remember, many of Firefox Addons at the experimental stage may be in prototype form]

Editor’s Note: On first look, it looks like a useful service. But the fact remains that it is yet at an experimental stage and the most important issue is that would you care to share all your web searches with a third party. While you are saving your web data from Google, but the after effect is that you are now sharing the same data with a third party, whose credentials are no match to Google.

And the worst part is that the site seems to be using a domain, which contains the word “Google”, which looks like a case of trademark violation. There may be chances, in future, that Google may drag the service to the court, and claim the domain citing trademark infringement.

Let’s know, what you think on it.

Download GoogleSharing From Website | From Firefox Addon Site.

[This is a guest post by Silki Garg. You may sure like her posts about Firefox Privacy and Protecting Online Privacy from Google on her blogs.]

Free Download Promotion – DefenseWall HIPS from SoftSphere

JumpStart: Go to the promotion page at GizMo’s to get the full featured free download of DefenseWall HIPS from SoftSphere.

SoftSphere, the makers of the highly regarded DefenseWall HIPS are offering a free copy of DefenseWall exclusively to Gizmo’s Freeware readers. The offer is available for a three day period starting from 2.00 PM Pacific Standard Time, Thursday 10 December and ending at 2.00 PM Sunday 13 December.

In case, you are not sure about the effectiveness of DefenseWall, please note that it has been given good ratings in the tests performed at AV-Comparatives, the independent agency to perform tests on antivirus and security software.

About DefenseWall HIPS:

Firewalls control your network activity, antivirus protects you only from known malicious modules. But their writers modify those modules so quickly, that anti-viruses are unable to detect them untill you will be infected with it.

But DefenseWall HIPS uses whitelists and blacklists to control the privileges of the programs that run on your PC. By reducing the privileges of Internet-facing and other vulnerable programs it very effectively prevents the installation of malware. Because it is not signature-based it is effective in preventing zero-day threats.

Remember, you cannot rely upon one single protection mechanism for all your Internet Security needs.

[This is a guest post from Silki Garg. You will sure find her latest posts on Portable Encryption Apps and Antivirus Software Uninstaller to be interesting reads.]

Twitter, Facebook DDoS Attacks Were Politically Motivated

We have already carried news about how the popular social networking site Twitter and Facebook were pulled down with a concerted DDoS attack and how Google, Facebook & Twitter were jointly investigating the reasons behind this DDoS Attack

DDoS attacks are usually not directly monetary related unlike malware attacks. They are usually the evil designs of somebody trying to get the notoriety in the black hat world and also sometimes to show the effectiveness of a botnet.

This time, the attack on Twitter and Facebook has been found to be politically motivated. The rogues were after the user accounts account of a pro-Georgian blogger who went under the nickname cyxymu, created on these websites. Cyxymu represents a town in the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia. The blogger, who extensively covers the suffering of Georgian civilians during and after the War in Abkhazia, is understood to be the target of the attack, which is being linked to the nationalists of Russisan origin.

See more about it on McAfee Blog and F-Secure Blog.

I do not know, what exactly such efforts are going to get. In fact, these efforts are going to be counter-productive to a huge extent. Nobody was knowing about cyxymu till now, and today it is a name known to every other internet freak. See the latest entries on Google Search Results.

[This post is written by Silki. Check out her latest posts on Should Websites Show Masked Password Text? and UltraVPN, the free VPN Service.

Malware Link Blocking Finally Arrives at Twitter

The 140 character microblogging platform Twitter is gaining popularity by each passing day. Geek or no-geek, everybody seems to be hooked up to Twitter, which looks like a good-for-no-use application when it was started.

And with its popularity, it is natural that the dark side of the Internet also get attracted towards it. Today Twitter is accused of spreading malware links just because of its use of URL Shortening services. The use of URL shortening is imperative for Twitter because it has to provide a mechanism to its user for squeezing as much information as possible within its 140 character limit.

But shortened URL pose a huge security risk, because you never know where you will land up when you click on a shortened URL.

Twitter, now blocking the Malware contained URL

Recently Twitter has started blocking the tweets, which contain the URL to malware distributing website. To test this feature, I selected a known dangerous website, http://gianttopdiscover.cn.

Please do not attempt to open this website, if you are not using a secured and updated web browser.

This is what I got, when I opened it with my Firefox 3.5.1.

a known malware site

To test, whether Twitter is able to block this malware URL or not, I tried to tweet an update like…”Just Testing…Don’t go to gianttopdiscover.cn.

Happy to note that my tweet was effectively blocked by Twitter and this is what I got.

twitter malware blocking

Nice beginning.

But it is understood that if the malware URL is already a shortened URL or using a redirect script, then this protection may not work.

[Check out the latest blog posts from Silki about malware scanning with boot disks and private internet browsing.]

Are Free Antivirus Software Equally Good as Paid Antivirus

There has always been a heated debate between the advocates of Free Antivirus Software and the promoters of Paid security software products. The first category of people try to criticize the security software companies like Symantec and McAfee for charging the computer users for something which is freely available from developers like Avira and AVG totally free of cost.

On the other hand, the paid security software vendors say that it is futile and dangerous to expect the free antivirus software makers to put in that much amount of effort and time, which is actually required to combat today’s internet threats. It requires lots of money and time to do the research, and if the antivirus developers do not get the money back and earn profit, you cannot expect them to operate on a serious note.

My own argument is in favor of the the Paid Security Software vendors. And I also want to add here that most of the free antivirus software are actually a stripped down version of their full-blown software, which is often given as an upsell product for promoting their paid version. If these Free Antivirus Software companies start making their Free products equally potent as their main paid product, who will go and buy their full-blown product? It is separate issue that recently launched Microsoft Security Essentials does not fit in this category and looks to be an independent effort to clean the Windows ecosystem, in general.

David Hall, Symantec’s Product Manager Asia-Pacific Consumer Products and Solutions, has recently raised a powerful voice in support of paid antivirus software and blasted that efficacy and utility of free security software. It sure looks like an aggressive marketing attempt in support of his own employers at a crucial time when Microsoft Security Essential is gearing to offer a serious threat to the profit margins of established security vendors, but still, David has a point worth mentioning.

What do you think on this issue? Are free antivirus software equally good as paid antivirus?

[This post is from Silki Garg. Do not forget to check out her latest posts on Portable Antivirus and Windows Security]

ClamWin Free Antivirus – Useful Portable Security Tool

Today’s malware and viruses and intelligent enough. One of the first things they do after infecting a computer is to disable the security applications installed there and block their update process. In some of these cases you may not be able to use the GUI of Windows and in extreme cases you may not be able to even boot up your computer.

In such a situation, you may need some external security tools, which are stored on removal media like USB, Pen Drive or CR ROM, and use it to clean your computer.

There are many such Portable Antivirus applications, which can be downloaded freely and used to clean already infected computers. Most of them are stripped down version of their full-featured counterparts. They generally do not provide you real time protection and so, are not a substitute of your regular antivirus applications.

ClamWin is one such popular Portable Antivirus available for free download from the famous security vendor ClamWin.It comes with an easy installer and open source code. It features:

  • High detection rates for viruses and spyware
  • Scanning Scheduler
  • Automatic downloads of regularly updated Virus Database
  • Standalone virus scanner and right-click menu integration to Microsoft Windows Explorer
  • Addin to Microsoft Outlook to remove virus-infected attachments automatically.

The best part of ClamWin is that it is Open Source and you can be absolutely sure that it contains no spyware or anything like that. But, it is sometimes criticized also for being open source, because the source code is available to the malware developers also and they can easily modify their code to bypass the detection tactics used by ClamWin.

Related: Ultimate List of Portable Antiviruses For Your USB

[This is a post from Silki Garg, who enjoys writing about Internet and PC Security Issues. Check out her latest article on Windows Security Tool – WinPatrol.]

Identity Finder – A Useful Tool for Identity Theft Security

Cases of identity theft are increasing by each passing day. It is a fact that most such cases happen due to negligence of the victim and a careful approach to your online behavior can help you a lot for the prevention against Identity Theft.

A few common factors, which cause good number of identity theft cases are use of weak passwords, using the same password at a large number of websites, falling victim to phishing attacks, rash clicking on malicious links on websites and your emails and things like that. These all can be easily prevented, if you exercise a little care while being online.

But even if you are careful enough not to fall for any of them, chances are always there that you have stored and written your private data in some files, folders, email messages or chat messages, which are lying dormant in your hard disks and you have completely forgotten about that. Have you ever thought that it is also a vulnerable piece of information and cause a case of identity theft against you.

It is next to impossible for you to dig deep and search for that data in your files. But it is not that difficult for the hackers and malware artists. They know exactly where to search your computer to get that precious data. And they have sophisticated tools helped by trojans, keyloggers and other sorts of malware to assist them in their fraudulent designs.

Identity Finder – Your Tool to Prevent Identity Theft

There is a one specialized tool, which does the job to search all your disks for this vulnerable data and secure that.

Welcome to Identity Finder. It is capable of searching following pieces of information at various locations within your disks, which can be used against you, if grabbed by wrong persons.

  1. Social Security Numbers
  2. Individual taxpayer numbers
  3. Credit and debit card information
  4. Bank account information
  5. Passwords/pins
  6. Dates of Birth
  7. National Insurance Numbers (United Kingdom)
  8. National Health Service Number (United Kingdom)
  9. Tax File Numbers (Australia)
  10. Social Insurance Numbers (Canada)

Identity Finder has special algorithms to search for your critical private data at all places within your computer and encrypt it easily so that it can not be read and accessed by the hackers and malware.

Identity Finder is a FREE tool, but the free version has many limitations. You will have to buy license for using all the features.

Download Identity Finder

This is a Guest Post by Silki Garg. She has recently written many popular articles like prevention of identity theft and Free VPN Client Software. Check them out.

Comodo EasyVPN – Free Setup Your Own VPN within Internet

Imagine these situations…

  • You run a small business spread over multiple locations and want to have a secured encrypted network to quickly share your data without spending a dime,
  • You are member of a close group of friends spread over different physical locations, and want to share your favorite files, photos, songs in absolutely safe and secured network,
  • You are a busy sales executive, always on the move and want to quickly access your office computer from different locations,

What is the best application, which comes to your mind. There may be a few solutions, but Comodo, the famous security vendor, has released an absolutely FREE and very simple-to-use applications, with which you can easily set up your VPN, with just a few clicks and without spending a dime.

Comodo EasyVPN.

Comodo EasyVPN allows businesses and home users to quickly group multiple computers into a secure, peer to peer, network over the Internet. EasyVPN requires no expert configuration, is fast and easy to set up and uses 128 bit encryption to recreate a cabled local area network over the Internet.

The software is available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions depending upon your OS. An important part of the software is the integration of a secured IM client, which allows you to chat and transfer of digital data via PC-to-PC without worrying anything about security.

The Features Include:

  • A secure instant messenger client allowing you to chat and send/receive confidential files over an encrypted communications channe.
  • Allows ‘remote desktop’ control over the computers.
  • Uses industry standard technologies and protocols so no additional software or hardware reconfiguration is necessary.
  • Absolutely FREE.
  • Remote File and Printer Sharing allowing you to exchange files and folders and even print to your local printer from any remote location.
  • Zero Touch Configuration – EasyVPN lives up to it name and can be setup in minutes even by a novice. It assigns an EasyVPN IP address to each VPN, which can be used to add or delete more nodes to your VPN.
  • Scalable, Flexible, Secure – EasyVPN networks can be as large or small as you need.

Download Comodo EasyVPN

[This is a guest post by Silki Garg. She advises on online security and malware detection, on her Internet Security Blog. A visit to her Blog is highly recommended. You’re sure to find something of interest.]

Hidden File Extensions – Windows 7 continues the Security Risk

In an attempt to make your desktop look clean and more user friendly, Microsoft had decided to hide the file extensions by default a long way back. This means that if” a file is named as sample.doc, you will see the name as “sample”, and the extension .exe will remain hidden. But the OS knows that it is actually a Word file, and therefore will open it through Word, when you double click it.

Similarly, if the actual name of a file is samplesoftware.exe, widows will show the file name as “samplesoftware” only, but it knows that it is an application and will execute it, when you double click on the filename.

So far, so good. This is a good feature from usability point of view.

But, this is also a big security risk, which has been exploited by some of the biggest malware threats like ILOVEYOU.

The issue is that several years ago, Microsoft has allowed the use of .as a valid character for filenames. This means that you can also name the same file as samplesoftware.jpg.exe or samplesoftware.doc.exe or samplesoftware.xls.exe. Windows will identify it correctly as an application, but will show the file name as samplesoftware.jpg or samplesoftware.doc or samplesoftware.xls. When an average user look it, he might innocently think that it is an Image / Word / Excel file and open it.

Malware artists have been using it for long. They can send a file attachment to you with the name my_nude_pics.jpg.exe, with a virus attached to it waiting to get activated as soon as the file is execeuted. Innocent users see it as my_nude_pics.jpg. Out of curiosity they open it, just to find that they have already executed a virus or malware file on their system.

This issue was known to Microsoft long back, but it is surprising to note that this issue continues in the latest flagship OS, i.e.Windows 7. May be that Microsoft as decided to give Readabilty a preference over Security.

How to see the hidden file extensions

You can change the default Windows settings to see the hidden file extensions. I have used that feature in Windows XP and Windows Vista. But not yet tried in Windows 7.

Just go to Control Panel, Open Folder Options window.

Deselect the check box, which says Hide Extensions for known File Types. Save your settings.

hidden-file-extensions

This might solve the issue related to many common file types but there are executable extensions that will STILL be hidden even if you turn the option off. For example PIF, which is meant to be a shortcut to old MS-DOS programs. Problem is, you can rename any modern Windows Executable to .PIF and it will happily run when double-clicked.

[This is a guest post by Silki Garg. She advises on spyware removal, online threats and malware detection, on her Internet Security Blog. A visit to her Blog is highly recommended. You’re sure to find something of interest.]

Is Digsby an Adware ?

What is Digsby

If you are not yet aware, Digsby is a wonderful applications that lets you combine the powers of Social Networking, IM and emails into a single application. For all socially networked souls in this Web 2.0 era, Digsby is like a cool breeze. It allows you to manage multiple clients and services from a single application. A big time saver.

But, what is BAD about Digsby

But, while I was installing Digsby on a friend’s computer recently, I noticed that Digsby has changed their installer and the new installer is just full of bad applications, all trying to have a share of your mindspace.

digsby Continue reading Is Digsby an Adware ?