Monday, December 28, 2009

Browser Security - 2


In my last review i have posted some basics in choosing the right web browser for use. But web security threats are more than just choosing the right browser, so in here we will see the next step in safe browsing. Current day threats are very dangerous, simple mistakes like as one visit to malware site or clicking a loaded shareware to install can affect your computer performance and usage.  Some of the consequences are like annoying pop-up screens with advertisements, your browsers home page will be changed, default search engine will be altered. Some time the intruders who hacked your computer will blackmail you for money or personal gain  or even worse of stealing your money from bank account could happen. Having  an antivirus installed is not enough with the amount of virus and spyware it is very hard for firewall vendors to keep in time. Ofcorse, there are few free firewall vendors like PC tool, Avast, Avira, Comodo internet security, Online Armour to provide free version of their internet security tools suites,  anti-spyware tool and firewalls  to ed. But it is necessary  to learn different approach to overcome these threats.
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Sanboxing:

In computer security world, sandboing is a mechanism used to separate running programs. Using it for tasks like executing untested code, running untrusted programs from unverified third parties and untrusted users. Given that open source and distributed computing getting more popular, sandbox concept will be very useful mode of protection from unwanted hacking. Sand box typically provides tight control over the untrusted program even if anything goes wrong the impact will not affecting your computer or its resources.
To get a sand boxed environment we can use a free program called Sandboxie which is available for windows OS later than Win 2000. Downloading this piece of software creates a sandbox like environment on your PC. Startup is just like normal other browser other than the inconvenient nag screen that pops until the application opens.  Browsing inside Sandboxie gives you greatest protection by isolating the browser from portions like your OS, hard drive, memory locations, altering registries, OS sessions. So what ever browsing or downloading you do will be within the box and will not affect your PC. Upon downloading and saving a file, Sandboxing comes with an option asking whether to save it permanently or not. Better option will be to add your default downloads folder to the Quick recovery settings so all files saved there will automatically saved in your hard drive which avoids you manually copying the files into real hard drive.
Say for instance if you have downloaded a virus or Trojan by mistake, you close the browser and right-click to delete all its files and processes by doing so will get your PC back to normal state as it was before starting the session. Latest version comes with advanced option like in-depth defense, blocking access to your personal files, allowing us to choose what program to run and not. Some other advanced features also helps us protecting from Key-loggers. Overall it protects us from viruses, Trojan software, ad-ware, spyware and other malware that could infect your PC from web (internet).

Online Armour:

To Make browsing more safer there is another option available from a company called Online Armor and they give us free firewall protection as well us an option called "Run Safer".  Run Saver works with privileges. All files, process and programs running in OS will have at-least two level of permission one with read only access and second as full access ( read, write, change). Users with admin login credentials will typically bound to have full access and users with normal login credentials will  have low-level access so that they cannot make any harm. Typical home users will use his admin log on for all day-to-day tasks he do in his/her machine as it convenient. But it is not safer to do so- if a dangerous program happen to get into your computer it will be also convenient for the virus/trojan/malware to crash or take control of your computer.
Online Armor's run safer option helps protect against this by automatically "stepping down the rights" that your web browser or any other program you run has to a limited user. You may claim any one can do this but the tool does it with transparency. This way you can make your web browsing  more safer.

PC Tool Firewall +

PC tool Firewall plus a very useful personal firewall that provides Host based intrusion Prevention system (HIPS) through enhanced security mechanism. It relies on list of programs and attempts check for valid digital signatures and alerts the users if it identifies any possible malicious behavior. It gives us protection as its commercial equivalent does in regards with performance. Simple installation and very user friendly in its default settings and produce fewer popups for common tasks. Some key highlights are
  • Hides your PC from Internet hackers.
  • Fine-grained control over inbound and outbound traffic.
  • Easy to use. Designed for both novice and expert users.
  • No interruptions when playing full-screen games.
  • Optional password protection for rules and settings.
  • Best of all it’s FREE. No catches, limitations or time-limits.
Additional features include "full screen mode, mode to suppress all alerts, password protection, automatic updates. For detailed list of its more features click here . So over all its a free good firewall option for home users. Paid version gives enhanced features for 49 dollars which is relatively cheaper than its costly counterparts.

PC Tool's Spyware Doctor:

PC tool's Spyware doctor with antivirus which is again an awesome tool to keep you away from infections. This is more corrective measure while earlier discussed options were more preventive methods. I own McAfee paid version installed in my computer but when my computer slows with adware and spyware infections its spyware doctor who rescued my brainfold (my PC). It's full scan almost detects and destroys all unwanted virus, Trojans, ad-wares and spyware in its best and quick possible way.  I will strongly recommend you to try installing the spyware doctor from PC tool, compare the scan with your paid protection and find the difference yourself.
Conclusion: In this post i discussed some intermediate level techniques in keeping home computer safer from exploits (attacks). Our first option is to have a sand box software installed and if you are not sure about what you are downloading try downloading it with sand box browser. Second option is also preventive option by turning safer run option ON (Online Armour) which avoid any harm to our computer by maintaining least privilege. PC tools firewall and spyware doctor are preventive and corrective measures respectively to combat from virus, Trojans, Ad-ware and Spyware infections. I hope this post is informative for home users .  Thank you again for your time if you need any further clarification or assistance in selecting any above mentioned methods please comment i will get back to you.