Lion of the Blogosphere

Protect yourself from malware

Major sites like Yahoo and AOL contained “malvertisements,” malicious ads that exploited flash to install the CryptoWall malware on users’ computers. See this article.

Don’t become a victim. I use the following precautions when surfing the web:

1. Surf with plugins turned off. Malware often takes advantage of common plugins, especially crappy insecure Adobe plugins like Flash, to install itself on your computer. (Unfortunately, you need Flash to use YouTube so you have to make an except for YouTube.)

2. Surf the web with an ad-blocker. I use Adblock Edge on Firefox and Adblock on Chrome. This keeps ads away. It’s fine to say that content providers need to make money somehow, but the internet is more pleasant and safer without ads.

3. Use anti-virus software. I use Avast on my PC and Avira on my Mac. Both are free.

If you can’t do the things above, then I recommend using a Chromebook which, as far as we know, is completely safe from malware because no software can be installed on it. That’s why I made my dad buy a Chromebook. He was not able to properly care for a PC. I know that my dad, if he continues to use his PC, will eventually get hacked like Alina Simone’s mom. After initial resistance, he admits that it’s a lot easier to use than the Windows computer.

A big downside of Chromebooks is that you can’t install iTunes so you can’t sync with an iOS device (like iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch). This is a problem I expect that Google has no intention of solving, given that Google is trying to push Android over iOS. Without such syncing, you are not able to copy your own files (like music and books you download from the internet for free) onto the iPad. (Although that may sound vaguely illegal, there are many legally free books you can download from the internet, such as the Palmer Method of Business Writing, and most Edgar Rice Burroughs novels including the excellent Moon Men trilogy and a whole bunch of Tarzan novels.) You also have no backup in case your iPad is lost and you want to restore everything the way it was to a new iPad.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 5, 2015 at EDT pm

Posted in Technology

10 Responses

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  1. If you run a Windows system, always always ALWAYS install the patch updates as soon as possible. The bulk of them — and there can be a dozen or more updates each month — are designed to fix security holes and exploits. Windows has gotten better at doing this automatically, but some people (especially with older systems) still have manual updates and they ignore the urgent message to “Please update me!” This applies equally to other products like Flash, Adobe, Java, etc.

    In addition to Lion’s sensible comment on anti-virus software, also make sure your Firewall is configured. Windows has this built-in now. And if you’re too cheap or stupid to download anti-virus software, at the very least use Windows Defender (built in).

    Also, don’t go to any sites that pop up or via email promise you something free, sexy, amazing, shocking, nude, etc. The Internet is like life: only walk around in safe neighborhoods.


    January 5, 2015 at EDT pm

  2. If you use Chrome, the youtube site proper does not use flash. So I do not make an exception for youtube. Most embedded youtube videos don’t use flash, either, but some do. It probably doesn’t send flash to Safari, either, but it does send flash to firefox.


    January 5, 2015 at EDT pm

  3. I run NoScript and recommend it.


    January 5, 2015 at EDT pm

  4. i remember bonzi buddy.


    January 6, 2015 at EDT am

  5. set up system restore points periodically in case you get infected

    grey enlightenment

    January 6, 2015 at EDT am

  6. Speaking of infected, just now I was trying to get to Steve Sailer on the site, and my AV software blocked it, saying the site was infected with Malware. First time I ever saw that happen. Maybe somebody at the NSA is sending them a message.


    January 6, 2015 at EDT am

    • Now that you mention it, pages on the site recently started taking a very long time to load and sometimes freeze my Firefox browser even though the pages seem to contain little more than text. Anybody else having that problem?

      Mark Caplan

      January 6, 2015 at EDT pm

  7. OT: Another two cops shot in New York. de Blasio’s reign of error continues.


    January 6, 2015 at EDT am

  8. set up system restore points periodically in case you get infected

    This happens automatically in Win 7 and up doesn’t it?

    Mrs Stitch

    January 6, 2015 at EDT pm

  9. You don’t need flash to watch videos. Youtube and other sites almost all detect that you don’t have flash installed and start playing with HTML5 assuming you have an up to date browser. Sometimes the site will bitch at you to install flash because it wants to play a flash only advertisement. Then you just use youtube-dl on the command line to grab the video and watch it.

    If you never install flash or java you avoid 90% of the security risks on the web. Don’t install them ever.

    Install Ghostery and configure it to block everything by default. There’s a buried option to automatically block all new trackers that should be set. Additional ad blocking software is not necessary. The point of Ghostery is to block all scripts and frames that are used to track you online, but in practice this means no ads show up. Ghostery and not having flash/java installed means an ad free browsing experience with low security risk.


    January 6, 2015 at EDT pm

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