Adobe has patched Flash twice in two weeks now. The reason for this was due to Hacking Team, an Italian company that sells hacking tools to government agencies, getting hacked. Hacking Team, it turns out, knew of at least three unpatched vulnerabilities (also known as “zero-days” or “0days”) in Flash, and exploits for these vulnerabilities were among the things that got breached.
A longtime reader who asked to be anonymous got his first tablet and smartphone a few weeks ago and was underwhelmed, to say the least. “What’s the point?” he asked me privately.
To be honest, I understand. I got my first tablet a couple of years ago–a Nook Color that I loaded Cyanogenmod on. And, to be honest, once the thrill of hacking an e-reader into a full-blown tablet with no restrictions on it wore off, I didn’t do a lot with it. When I thought of it, I would check the weather on it when I was getting ready in the morning, and maybe glance at my e-mail with it, but mostly it sat on my end table. I probably used it 15 minutes a week.
I’ve talked before about how to disable animation in Cyanogenmod 10.x, but I’ve done a few other things to conserve some scarce system resources on my gigahertz-ish, half-gig Nook Color. If you’re running Cyanogenmod on a phone that’s a couple of years old, these tricks can help you too. Here are some tricks to speed up Android. Read more
Secunia released its annual vulnerability review, a study of the 50 most vulnerable pieces of software in 2012. It was a fairly tight-three way race at the top, and the distance between #3 and #4 was huge.
I was actually surprised at who the top three were. They weren’t the three usual suspects. But in the case of the top two, they did, to their credit, roll out fixes within 30 days of disclosure.
So now that I’m killing you with suspense…. Read more
Mozilla quietly released Firefox 19 this week. Its biggest selling point is a built-in PDF viewer (like Google Chrome does), which makes me more comfortable than having Acrobat Reader installed–Mozilla is generally faster at fixing security holes than Adobe. Besides that, the built-in reader is fast. No waiting for Acrobat to launch. Short documents like IRS form 1040 display very quickly, though it wasn’t so crazy about me throwing the 237-page NIST 800-53 (if you’d like some light reading) at it. I closed the tab and revisited it, and it loaded the second time.
So this is an update you want. You may be wise to wait a day or two for it to stabilize (Firefox 18 was rapidly updated to 18.0.1 and 18.0.2 after its release), but being able to ditch Acrobat Reader (or leave it installed but only use it when absolutely necessary) definitely is appealing. Update it this weekend, maybe.
Two antivirus programs on one system? Heresy, right?
Well, not if one is designed to play second fiddle. As it turns out, Avast, one of the best free antivirus programs, can do just that. Just download it, run the installer, and pick the second option–“Compatible install – install as the second line of defense.” Be sure to de-select the option to install Google Chrome and make it your default browser, unless you want that. Free programs often come with ridealongs.
I said Tuesday that it’s a bad idea to download and view PDF (Adobe Acrobat/Adobe Reader) documents from questionable sources, but I didn’t really elaborate on why, nor did I tell you how to view questionable PDFs safely.
The reason is that pretty much anybody with a little bit of determination and the ability to follow a recipe can plant a trap in a PDF file and use it to gain access to your computer. Adobe Reader is extremely prone to these kinds of attacks, and don’t think you’re safe if you don’t run Windows. There are toolkits that will inject traps that work on Macintoshes and Linux too.
Yes, your antivirus software should catch it. But most antivirus software doesn’t dig deeply enough into PDF files to find it.
Scared yet? You should be. You do have some options. Read more
Sometimes, Google Chrome uses too much disk space. There’s an easy explanation for it, and there’s also an easy fix to reduce Chrome’s disk usage. Here’s how.
When Chrome updates itself, it doesn’t always delete the previous version(s). If you have a 3 TB HDD, that doesn’t matter much, but if you have an SSD, it sure does. Especially if you have a 120 GB or smaller drive, which many inexpensive systems do. Read more
I used Google Chrome this week while I waited for Firefox 3.5.1 to come out. I like both browsers but still prefer Firefox by a slight margin. But Chrome is nice to have for those times when Firefox has unpatched vulnerabilities.Popups: Chrome wins hands down. Firefox doesn’t block all popups, but in a week of using Chrome, I had zero popups. None. That was nice.
Searching: Firefox wins. Most people don’t mind hitting ctrl-f to search, but I’ve grown used to Firefox letting me search by hitting the / key. It’s faster and easier and now that I have the feature I hate not having it.
Blinky crap: Firefox wins. I can disable animated GIFs in Firefox and I can use Flashblock. Maybe I can get Chrome to disable animation too, but I know where to look in Firefox. Firefox will stay near and dear to me as long as it lets me block all that blinky crap.
Speed: Chrome runs Google Maps and the new Yahoo mail faster and on a marginal PC it scrolls text a bit better. But I think Firefox finds sites faster. Both are much faster than IE though, and after suffering through 8 hours of IE at work every day, either one is heavenly.
Search bar: If all you do is search Google, Chrome is better. I routinely search Amazon and eBay, a lot. Chrome’s way of doing it is clumsier than Firefox even though it uses less screen space.
Frankly I like both browsers but I’m glad to have Firefox back. I may find myself alternating between the two based on whatever I happen to be doing.