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Thanks Microsfoft, that is another good reason to use Linux!

Thanks Microsfoft, that is another good reason to use Linux!

This morning I had one of those rare occasions when I needed to boot into Windows XP. Two and a half hours and three re-boots later, Windows had finally finished updating and was ready to let me do some work. I flashed up Firefox only to get the following warning:

firefox warning

I was a wee bit perplexed until discovered that one of the Microsoft updates, the “.NET Framework Assistant plugin” pokes a a “critical” hole in the browser’s security (effectively bringing Firefox down to IE’s level). Fortunately my copy of Firefox is suitably up to date and blocks this unwanted plugin.

Apparently thanks to Microsoft this vulnerability, which exists in all versions of Internet Explorer, lays Firefox open to infection by the Trojan.PWS.ChromeInject.A. According to BitDefender researchers, “the Trojan filters data sent by the victim to a large number of designated banking websites which are used everyday in the UK for online shopping and financial transactions. Harvested login credentials will be sent to a web address similar to [removed]eex.ru. Both the domain and the hosting server are located in Russia, which points to the origins of this latest e-threat.”

Just to add to the fun, last May, Microsoft released an update that made it almost possible to uninstall the .NET framework. Given that one of the reasons I originally choose to abandon IE in favour for Firefox was safer browsing, I have now had to editing the windows register (details given here).

This sort of thing really makes me feel like abandoning Microsoft completely and just sticking with Ubuntu, which I use 90% of the time anyway.

Firefox increasingly popular across Europe

Firefox increasingly popular across Europe

The latest new from XiTi Monitor show that Firefox usage rate in Europe has gained nearly five percentage points since April 2006. Firefox cannot be stopped and is now close to 25% of all European browser use. However, Europe still remains lower than Oceania’s since November 2006. In the browser wars, Firefox 2 leads over IE 7 in 14 European countries. While IE 7 has leaped ahead in some countries during December 2006 this rate has slowed and has been leaning towards stagnation since mid February 2007. So join the revolution to take back the Web download Firefox 2 today!

The Mozilla Manifesto

The Mozilla Manifesto

I have been using Mozilla browsers and other software of some years now, I use the the Firefox browser and the Thunderbird e-mail client on a daily basis. It has always felt somehow right. When I first started to use the internet Mosaic was the web browser of choice, this was soon replaced by Netscape (and for the record in those day I was using Pegasus Mail for e-mail). The reason this Netscape took over from Mosaic is simply that it was a better browser. This was at a time when Bill Gates was telling us that the World Wide Web was just a flash in the pan and wasn’t going to be anything of significance.

It took a couple of years for the Redmond Giant to wake up to their mistake, when they did their response was to try and grab control of the internet. One had the feeling that Internet Explorer and Outlook where more or less rammed down our throats. It became the dominate web browser not because it was better, but because this was what the big corporates decided that we should use. If that sounds like paranoia remember this was the time before broadband when most people only had internet access through their workplace. Most business, even now, don’t really understand the internet and tend to stick to “brands” that have heard of even if it is not in their (or their customers) best interests.

Now we are in the broadband era, people have more choice about how they access the web (and the internet in general) so I am thankful that software such as the Firefox still exists. You only have to look at the Mozilla Manifesto which has been published recently, to see the difference in philosophy between Mozilla (and the open source community generally) and that of certain corporate software giants.

I am not going to layout the whole manifesto here but I think that the principles are worth listing here:

  1. The Internet is an integral part of modern life – a key component in education, communication, collaboration, business, entertainment and society as a whole.
  2. The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible.
  3. The Internet should enrich the lives of individual human beings.
  4. Individuals’ security on the Internet is fundamental and cannot be treated as optional.
  5. Individuals must have the ability to shape their own experiences on the Internet.
  6. The effectiveness of the Internet as a public resource depends upon interoperability (protocols, data formats, content), innovation and decentralized participation worldwide.
  7. Free and open source software promotes the development of the Internet as a public resource.
  8. Transparent community-based processes promote participation, accountability, and trust.
  9. Commercial involvement in the development of the Internet brings many benefits; a balance between commercial goals and public benefit is critical.
  10. Magnifying the public benefit aspects of the Internet is an important goal, worthy of time, attention and commitment.

So if you haven’t tried Firefox yet, it is fast, it is safe, it is flexible and it is free, why not try it today, what have you got to loose?

Browser security

Browser security

Attitudes to security have once again been throwing into relief by the news of security vulnerabilities of two competing web browsers this week.

Firstly, a new version of Firefox has been release to address seven security vulnerabilities, four of which are rated critical. Secondly, there is the news that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is vulnerable to an extremely critical security flaw. As yet, Microsoft have not bother with releasing a patch as it is not aware of any attacks actively exploiting the vulnerability.

So what to do? It strikes me that there are two choices, either use a browser which is patched as soon as vulnerabilities are found or use IE with your fingers crossed and ActiveX turned off. So which do you do?

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