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Just how safe is your Internet browser?

(Tech News) In the past year, the top 5 browsers have had over 186 vulnerabilities; from malicious URLs to cyber infections: what do you really know about your browser?

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As we more heavily rely on our browsers, are we safe?

Surfing the web is part of our daily routines. Hopping online to check email, Facebook, or just send a quick message to friends and coworkers, are all part of the wonder that is the Internet. While you’re surfing along, have you ever stopped to think about which browser you’re using and how safe it is? Is one browser any different than another?

Adjusting privacy settings, telling sites not to track your movements, and monitoring which sites you click on are all good security measures, but is it enough? A recent survey found that different browsers have different security issues.

Reviewing vulnerabilities of millions of computers

Before discussing security issues, it should be noted which browsers are most popular. According to a study conducted by WhoIsHostingThis (WIHT), Google Chrome is the most popular (31.8%), with Microsoft IE is a close second (30.9%). Apple Safari is next with 25 percent. Mozilla Firefox and Opera trail behind with less than 10 percent.

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The Secunia Vulnerability Review sampled millions of private computers with the Secunia Personal Software Inspector installed and found that Mozilla Firefox had the highest number of vulnerabilities; perhaps this is why it is least popular. Although, Opera only had 11 known vulnerabilities.

These numbers could be a result of the smaller demographic pool, as there may not have been enough people using this browser to get an accurate reading. Google Chrome had 245 vulnerabilities, a surprisingly high number given how many people use the browser. Microsoft IE had 126 whereas Apple Safari had only 75. Since these statistics only account for computers using the Secunia software, it may not be an accurate portrayal of users across the board, but it does give a good starting point for further investigation.

How to improve your own browser’s safety

WIHT also suggests how you can secure your browser regardless of which one you choose to use. First, install quality anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. Everyone has a different idea of which brands work best, but it is definitely a good idea to have both of these programs installed and regularly updated.

Also, make certain that you are regularly updating your browser, as this will give you the most current vulnerability patches. To take your security options one step further, activate your browser’s “do not track me” function. This will prevent sites from following you via tracking cookies. “Do not track me” is available for Firefox, Chrome, IE, and Safari.

Recommended browser extensions, add-ons

There are also several add-ons and extensions that can help fortify the safety of your browser. WIHT suggests NoScript Security Suite for Firefox and Webutation for Firefox and Chrome. Security Suite helps regulate which sites can run Java and Javascript, whereas Webutation, collects data on websites and provides a score to help you gauge how safe it is.

As this was a concentrated study, it is difficult to tell whether the numbers will match up across the board in a broader study, however, one thing you can take away from this study is to check and double check your browser and overall computer setting to ensure everything is updated and as secure as possible.

#BrowserSafety

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. ehdf

    February 10, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Thanks for sharing the valuable adds on in the end of the post, this will save a bit of our skin against attacks.

  2. Pingback: Latest Safe Internet News - IDmap

  3. stephanic taylor

    June 30, 2015 at 3:18 am

    Hi,
    The above mentioned post is great and users would love it as it will be very helpful. It has mentioned some useful tips which will help from attackers and you will have safe browsing experience.

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Business Finance

Can you afford missing a paycheck? Finance tips for freelancers

(FINANCE) Freelancers who are not always promised a regular paycheck could benefit from staying on top of their finances. Here’s our tips!

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Most Americans don’t have a regular savings account and could not handle a $1,000 emergency, let alone miss practically a month of pay. We all could benefit from some careful reflection about the precarious nature of our personal finances.

Particularly those of us who don’t receive a regular paycheck.

Entrepreneurs and those invested in the gig economy have volatile incomes, and literally no promise of a paycheck ever – that can impact your personal finances in a number of ways.

Variable incomes are normal for this group and can impact entrepreneurs in ways as simple as handling debt.

If this is you – here are a few things to keep in mind that can help you deal with the volatility of living on a variable income and handling your personal finances.  

  • Set up an emergency fund. Start with 500 if you have to, and remember this is an emergency fund for your personal expenses, not your business. If you have an emergency fund, make sure you identify what an emergency is and also be prepared to put money back when it comes out. If you have a hard time not spending money in front of you, put your money in a local bank or CU that you don’t have immediate access too.
  • Stick to a budget. when you can’t forecast your income appropriately, controlling expenses is so critical it’s the few things that are in your control.
  • Don’t mix business with personal. While you may be pouring your personal energy and time into your start-up or gig, be careful about mixing expenses for two reasons: First, it messes up your budget. You need to have separate budgets for personal and business. Second, there could be tax challenges – consult a tax professional for more information. Here’s a little primer to get you started.
  • Save for retirement. There are tax benefits and come on, don’t wait till you can’t work anymore. Also, an IRA IS NOT AN EMERGENCY FUND.
  • Practice good financial behaviors. Automate bill pay. Online statements. Digital receipt tracking. The more you can automate your life, the better you are. You already have so many demands on your time, reduce that so you can spend more time doing what you love and what matters.
  • Consider diversifying your income. Either ensure you have multiple strings or a backup gig (even if it’s just uber driving) or be prepared to do temporary or contract labor during your slow seasons.

The path to entrepreneurship is rough. If the government can be unstable, those of you who work in the world of startups, gigs, and entrepreneurship, need to be even more on your toes. The “normal recommendation” for saving is 10% of your income, but normal may not be enough for you. Be prepared and save (more) of your paycheck.

Disclaimer: I am neither a tax nor investment professional. This is personal financial advice and I encourage you to visit a professional if you need more specific plans of action.

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Tech News

iOS 15 beta has blur nude photos opt-in, but its not without fault

(TECH NEWS) To protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos.

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Woman looking at Apple iPhone representing new iOS 15 beta that will blur nude photos.

In a move to protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos received in the Messages app. Amid privacy concerns, the feature has yet to be released.

The option to blur nude photos is opt-in, reports The Verge, and does not prevent users from choosing to view the photos in question even after being implemented.

This iteration of the feature is distinct from the original one insofar as it will no longer alert a parent or guardian when nude photos are encountered. While this may seem like a controversial change, several experts pointed out that exposing nude content on a child’s device in some households could result in abuse or, as Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic instructor Kendra Albert suggests, the outing of “queer or transgender children to their parents.”

With the most recent version of this feature enabled, children who receive inappropriate photos via the Messages app would be able to do two things: choose to avoid (or see) the content, and choose to send a report to a trusted adult if they see fit to do so.

Blurring photos is just one of several aspects of Apple’s Communication Safety suite, a feature that aims to prevent child sex abuse by making it easier for children to avoid and report predatory content.

 

Child on electronic device- iOS 15 beta that will allow blur nude photos should protect children.

Another feature that Apple has tested – but not released – is their Child Sex Abuse Imagery Detection (CSAM-detection), which scans and reports iCloud content that shows child pornography or abuse to Apple moderators for further review. As one can imagine, the feature drew mixed criticism, the majority of which came from privacy advocates.

While the vast majority of humanity can (hopefully) agree that fighting against child exploitation is a noble cause, these groups argue that scanning and reporting individuals’ personal photos via an algorithm opens the door to government interference and increased surveillance. Switching the algorithm’s baseline to scan for things like anti-government content, for example, would be easy, these groups posit, making the feature extremely dangerous in principle.

There is no current release date set for any of these aforementioned features, though iPhone users can reasonably expect them to drop at some point during iOS 15’s development.

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Tech News

Amazon Music debuts synchronized text transcripts for popular podcasts

(TECH) The first feature to hit Amazon Music is auto-generated and synchronized text transcripts for their most popular podcast shows. Sign us up!

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Amazon Music Transcripts

Amazon set out to accelerate the growth and evolution of podcasts last year by acquiring the podcasting network, Wondery. Now, the company is doing just that with the launch of its auto-generated and synchronized podcast transcripts feature on Amazon Music.

According to an Amazon Music tweet, with this feature, you’ll be able to “Roll it back, jump ahead, and follow along” with the podcast you’re listening to. For instance, you can scrub through the transcript to find that line of text with that quote or movie and book suggestion you can’t quite remember. When you tap on a particular line of text in the transcript, you’ll be able to jump straight into that specific part of the podcast. I can already see all the time saved! But, if you just want to read along as you listen, you can do that, too. The transcript will match the audio as you’re hearing it.

Right now, the company is only rolling out podcast transcripts in the US on both iOS and Android devices. When it will expand to other countries isn’t known, and the feature isn’t available for all podcasts yet. For now, it is only available on a selection of popular podcasts like Smartless, Crime Junkie, This American Life, Uncommon Ground, and Modern Love, but more are coming.

Amazon Music Homescreen

To use it, all you have to do is open the podcasts tab on Amazon Music and select one of the podcasts you’d like to listen to. Of course, you’ll need to select a show with the podcast transcription feature to see it. When your show is playing, on the top of the album art and in fullscreen mode, the transcriptions will be available for you to read along to.

Oh, and if you’re worried about having to read through the ads, you have nothing to fret about. Ads won’t be transcribed. Instead, the transcription will read “audio not transcribed” when they are playing.

So far, Amazon seems to be going strong in the podcasting game with the release of podcast transcripts. The feature makes it easy to search and find what you are looking for in a show. And, for those on a long and noisy bus and subway ride, you’ll finally be able to read the information you previously couldn’t hear.

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