Safer Browsing

One of the problems with using the Internet is the vast amount of security issues encountered that can lead to getting your PC infected with all kinds of nastiness.  Some so bad that you need to wipe the PC clean and start over from scratch.

Some people tend to get infected a lot, while others rarely ever get an infection.  What’s the difference between them?  I think it’s a combination of the tools used as well as the habits employed.  I have rarely gotten infected and I would like to share some of my tools and habits so that others may benefit.

The tools I use to keep my system safe are actually a pretty light on the Anti-Virus side of things.  My main system runs MS Vista Home Ultimate (I hate it, will change eventually, but I’m stuck with it for now) and I keep it’s built in firewall up at all times.  I do not run the Security Manager, however.  I use Clamwin as my anti-virus software for two very important reasons.

  1. it does not constantly run in the background which would slow everything down
  2. it is free for personal and business use.

What this means is that I do not actually have an Anti-Virus constantly running on my system trying to protect me from harm.  I find this shows just how effective those products are while at the same time highlights the effectiveness of my browser tools and habits.

My browser of choice is Firefox with three extensions that I consider vital to safe browsing.

  1. Flashblock – blocks Flash from automatically playing on page load
  2. NoScript – blocks scripts from automatically running on page load
  3. Blitzbleiter (recently added) – blocks Flash from running if not 100% Flash compliant

When I visit a website I do not trust, I get a lot of content blocked automatically.  This may result in some ugly pages if they rely heavily on Flash content and/or scripting.  The nice part about NoScript is that you get to choose exactly which domain you will allow to run for any particular page.  For example, on Twilight’s own site, you get the choice of allowing twilightonalex.com, wowhead.com, and google-analytics.com to run their scripts.  You can choose to only allow twilightonalex.com so that menus will work while denying anything else to run since you may not trust it.  This is quite handy, for example, in forbidding the ad network quantserve.com from running scripts while allowing the site using the ad service to function.

How do I know whom to trust?  That is a very good question.  Experience and searching for site reviews are useful tools.  Doesn’t this kind of distrust slow you down?  Yes, and no.  While individual site browsing is hampered a bit, I find that avoiding a system reinstall is worth it in the long run.

By the way, if you want a direct link to download the most recent Adobe Flash installer without the ‘download manager’ crapware which also tries to install ‘free <insert-latest-CrapWare-I-don’t-want>’, here you go:

Hoping for a safer browsing future for everyone!  Take care!

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