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.... Richard Rossbauer
April 30, 2005
As of this date, Firefox has been downloaded over
50 million times: most recent Version is 1.0.3. If you
are one of the 50 million users, you may not have the
latest version. Do you know how to find out?
There isn't any automatic message that pops up in my Firefox
browser tray to tell me when an update or vulnerability fix is available.
Unlike Internet Explorer, you either have to subscribe to the
email notice service
from Mozilla or check for updates yourself.
Checking for updates is really quite easy.
Here's how to determine if
you have the latest version - -
With your Mozilla Firefox browser open, click on Help
in the top tool bar, from
the drop down menu that opens, click on About Mozilla Firefox.
The version number of your browser will appear in the middle of this
If it's 1.0.3, Great! Just make a note to do this 5 second check at
If you're not using version 1.0.3, here's how to update --
In the top tool bar again, Click on Tools.
Select Options from the drop down
menu, and Click on the Advanced icon that looks like a gear.
Scroll down to Software Update and check both boxes. Click
the Check Now button and wait a few minutes while Firefox
checks for the latest updates.
If there are any, follow the simple instructions for downloading the
When asked where to save the download file, I put it on the desktop.
It appeared as a typical 'Set Up' icon. Clicking on it started the
for version 1.0.3. The download was faultless and simple.
I was pleased to see that all of my previous files, links, settings,
tool bar icons, etc, were unchanged. The more I use Firefox, the
more I like it.
If you made the switch to Firefox
because you wanted more security, don't you agree that it's really
worthwhile spending a few minutes weekly to keep your Firefox up to
April 25, 2005
There's a lot of
Buzz about how safe the Mozilla
Firefox browser is when compared with Microsoft's
This alert is not intended to take sides in that argument.
(I have had more than my share of intrusion problems with IE over
the past few years, and to date, none with Firefox. That includes
starting with Firefox BETA through their latest update).
The point of this message is that the Firefox browser does have
inherent vulnerabilities as well, which, so far, have been addressed
and patched by Mozilla.
And as with Internet Explorer, you - the user, are at risk if you
don't update whenever a patch is made available.
The facts are just what the experts have predicted: as more and more
users switch to Firefox, the target for the Hackers, virus writers
and online thieves gets larger and larger.
If you are a member of that target group, assuming you are safe
just because you switched is a major mistake!
Mozilla publishes a great website to keep you up to date at
It contains a list of the security vulnerabilities known to affect
particular versions of Mozilla, and instructions on what users can
do to protect themselves. Mozilla states that the list will be added
to when new security problems are found.
And they state that it is not meant as an exhaustive list of all
security-related bugs. To find technical discussions of
security-related bugs, they suggest you visit Bugzilla.
The Bugzilla page lists security vulnerabilities with direct impact
on users. Mozilla states that all of these vulnerabilities have been
fixed prior to their most recent milestone release.
Make sure you have them fixed, too.
April 23, 2005
Are PC users ready for another Operating System?
on the April 1, 2005 blog posting prompted this question regarding
the possibility of replacing Windows with a more secure operating
system like Linux.
Without delving into a
discussion of the superiority of one over the other, making such a
change is unquestionably beyond the capabilities of the vast
majority of Windows users.
The software maker, Novell must believe that it can be done, though,
as they have recently shipped their latest bundle of Linux software
for "tech savvy" home PC users. (Their earlier
software releases have been developed for retailers and small
Adding one more choice for the everyday, "less tech savvy" home PC
user would be overwhelming. Imagine having to choose from among a
half dozen or more browsers and internet service providers and
possibly three operating systems - Windows, Mac and Linux!
I'm in favor of the efforts
by Novell and others in developing safer Operating Systems. I hope
only that they accompany these efforts with the tools and support
services to guide the everyday computer user in utilizing them.
If the installation package for Linux automatically replaces the
existing operating system without destroying programs and data
the safest browsers, renders existing websites without problems,
handles existing mail services, etc, all automatically from one
installation CD or DVD, then I would brave the unknown and replace
my existing Windows operating systems with Linux.
.................. Would You?
April 13, 2005
to believe so many people simply ignore
all of the warnings about online security threats
because people don't want to be embarrassed by appearing uninformed
in the eyes of their friends and peers?
attitude makes a complete turnaround after they experience a
computer shutdown due to virus infections, malware and nasty hacker
Then, nearly everyone is ready for some helpful education.
The real challenge is to provide that
education before the fact to help avoid virus grief.
"User Education" is the focus of our Firewalls and Virus
Protection website and the "Security Alert News Reporter".
Interestingly, many of the major players in the Security field feel
that getting the word out about the threats could have the biggest
effect in alleviating the problems with spam, adware, spyware, and
other crippling or annoying exploits.
Microsoft, for example, believes that educating IM users could have
a bigger impact than building better safeguards into Instant
(Instant Messages containing concealed security threats is one of
the latest attack mechanisms used by online criminals)
If you are reading this post, it's probably because you care about
protecting your family and yourself from these dangers. What about
the rest of your friends? Are your IM and Chat Room Buddies and
email friends aware of these growing threats?
How about being a participant in our "Computer Security Awareness
Campaign" and spread the word to all of your friends? Nothing to
buy, nothing to sell, just share your concerns for online security.
I believe we are personally remiss if we don't. How do you feel
A good place to start is the "Security Alert News Reporter" (free
subscription) or the
Firewalls-and-Virus- Protection.com website.
April 1, 2005
Instant messaging - If
you use it, you and yours are
From the first days that
my Firewalls-and-virus-protection website
went online over a year ago, it contained cautions on the potential
dangers lurking in chat rooms.
My grand-daughters are
accomplished Internet chatters, capable of carrying on rapid fire
conversations with seven or eight, or even more of their friends at
the same time. Many of these are classmates they haven't seen for
maybe up to
30 minutes since they all left school, or got off of the school bus
My major concern then was the potential of predators lurking in
their chat rooms, trying to entice these teenagers into divulging
personal information that could lead to all types of dangerous
Alerting these young people to the threats, and reminding them of
the urgent need to practice 'Safe Surfing Habits' has kept them out
of harm's way so far.
But now they face even greater dangers! Ones they can't see.
During the past few months, there has been a major increase in
activity by Hackers, virus writers, and online spies attacking the
tools used by nearly all 'Instant Messagers' (users of Instant
It's no longer just the teen age 'chatters' that are in danger.
Whole families are threatened.
Chat room Buddies, good or bad were at least out in the open,
although buddy names or handles were really only disguises.
The Hackers and online identity thieves don't advertise their
presence, even in masquerade. They just use IM to spread viruses,
spyware and trojan horses. All of which can lead to capturing
personal information, Credit card and bank account numbers, and even
Yahoo, AOL, and Microsoft appear to be the main targets. They seem
to be making some efforts to stem the flow of poison. The News Media
has been picking up on the growing dangers. I don't feel like it's
My concern, and one that should be yours, is how to help the
of thousands of teen age 'chatters' become aware of what's happening
of their favorite pastime pursuits?
I'm sure they don't want to be responsible for endangering
P.S. I'm a very concerned
Grandparent with many grandchildren. I feel that this requires more
than a website, newsletter or Blog. How would you spread the word to