Damn that adware

Tony pointed me to an interesting article on Charles Wright’s Bleeblog about “Zero-Day holes” — security flaws that may have been in products forever, with not even the manufacturer knowing. Not entirely surprising I suppose. From time to time we hear of some research company telling us about the latest problem they’ve found in Windows or Internet Explorer, and that Microsoft has issued a patch. But it’s not always the white hats that find the flaws.

Some are dumping IE and moving over to Firefox for their web browsing. I’ve certainly considered it too, since the kids hit some games web site last week that installed some horrible Gator/Gain adware. Bleuch. Firefox looks pretty good, with only a couple of gotchas evident from my experimenting.

  • it continually asks to confirm the proxy password at work (though it’s fine in this regard at home)
  • some foolish web sites the kids like (eg Nick Jr) use weird-arse plug-ins that are only IE compatible.
  • it only displays the first few words in title attributes

What every web browser needs is some kind of lockdown mode, where you tell it “You’ve got all the plug-ins you’re getting” (eg Flash, Shockwave, PDF, maybe RealPlayer at a pinch). “You can display Java applets, run Javascript, play movies and sounds, and that’s your lot mate. No file downloads, no popups, no ActiveX, no sodding Gain time and password sychronising BS, nothing else. Ever.” Firefox may come close, or I suppose I could go fiddling with browser and Windows permissions to attain that level of safety under a “kids” logon, but I haven’t got around to investigating it yet.

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7 Replies to “Damn that adware”

  1. As I currently doing a web programming course, I’ve used just about every browser that exists (to test various W3C technologies which are supported by some and not by others). They all do some things well and some things extremely crappily (ever tried to debug javascript in IE? – don’t, just go straight to Mozilla).

    I’m currently using SpywareBlaster to stop nasty pop-ups and the like from installing themselves on my machine. It seems to be working nicely. You can get it from http://www.javacoolsoftware.com

  2. I am using firefox because my boyfriend introduced it to me, and it is much better in many ways, but since i am not a techhead i won’t be able to tell you these better ways, only it appeals asthetically to me and my blog looks better in that browser compared to explorer. You should try it. chau

  3. I prefer Opera over Firefox, mostly because of the mouse gestures (rapid right-click left-click to go back a page is immensly useful)
    Still have Firefox installed of course, and every so often have to go back to IE for certain sites, but that is happening less and less now

  4. I like Firefox a lot – mostly because I get exactly the same browser experience under Linux and Windows (which is important to me as I use Linux at home and Windows at work).

    Firefox has great base functionality, but is also extensible through it’s own plugin system. If you want mouse gestures (for example), there are four plugins to choose from.

  5. Daniel,

    Try MyIE2 or Avant – both of them ALMOST 100% compatible with IE plugins, have pop-up and spyware blockers, and are free. They also allow tabbed browsing and are pretty bug free in comparison to other software. That said, running Spybot is a good idea.

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