Archive for Browsers

Emergency IE Patch Released Today


Microsoft typically releases its updates on Tuesday evenings, but today they will be issuing a special patch specifically for Internet Explorer. The patch will be released at 1:00 PM EST. Windows XP users can get the patch downloaded and installed by going to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/. Windows Vista users can get the patch by either by going to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/ or by clicking “Windows Update” on their Start menu.

What’s the patch for?

The patch fixes a flaw which allows thieves to remotely take over a computer and steal passwords and — potentially — financial information.  The scam works by secretly planting malicious code on hacked Web sites.  The code causes Explorer to crash briefly, then allows thieves to take over the infected computer. Microsoft said one in every 500 computers that use Internet Explorer — up to 2 million computers worldwide — may be infected.

Initially the problem was though to be unique to the current IE7 browser, but it has since been discovered to exist in versions as old as IE5, and even in the upcoming IE8 browser.

Is this a virus?

No, this isn’t a virus. This is an “exploit”.  There is a flaw in the programming of a specific area of the Internet Explorer’s code. It is connected with a HTML web site programming tag called “span”.   The flawed code mishandles the span code, and there are programmers out there exploiting this flaw. The patch fixes the flawed code.

Also, Symantec, the makers of Norton Internet Security and Norton AntiVirus released antivirus signature “Bloodhound.Exploit.219” and “IPS signature 23241 – HTTP MSIE Malformed XML BO” to protect users against this exploit. These updates were released on Decmber 10, 2008. Yet another reason to keep your anti-virus software and subscription up-to-date.

How Do I Update My AntiVirus?

Norton updates can be found here.
McAfee users can use the Virtual Technician here.

Be aware, if you renew your antivirus subscriptions every year, then your computer is likely to be protected already. Modern antivirus programs update automatically at least 4 times per day so long as your computer is connected to the Internet.

My AntiVirus Is Fine, Do I Need The Patch?

I strongly encourage you to download the patch. Multiple layers of protection work better that single layers.


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Google’s Chrome Browser

On Labor Day, Google announced they would be launching a test (beta) version of their “Chrome” web browser in 100 countries today, Tuesday. It will be competing with the other top web browsers out there: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s Firefox, Apple’s Safari, and Opera among many others. (Download the browser)

As mentioned in an earlier post, a Beta version still has bugs to be ironed out, so you might want to be cautious about downloading the browser just yet, but you can read more about it in a comic book intro that Google released online.

Does the world need another browser? Probably not, but releasing a browser is an understandable move for Google. Here are some thoughts I have, in no particular oder.

First off, they have their own mobile phone operating system coming out in the near future called Android. Like Apple’s iPhone which uses the Safari browser, Google will want to integrate their own browser into their OS. This will be particularly important as Android will play a big part in Google’s mobile advertising plans.  Yes, reader, more and more ads will be showing up on cell phones.

Advertising, yet again, is the another good reason for Google to release their own browser. The newer browsers are adding more and more privacy features.  Some of which may affect cookies used by many online advertisers to track ad access and traffic. Some new privacy features may very well interfere with tracking ads, and advertisers won’t like that. So Google will most likely see to it that some tracking metho will be available while still protecting your privacy. If Chrome becomes a success, they’ll protect their advertising revenue stream. Google runs ads using their own systems called Adwords and AdSense.

On a related front, Microsoft, a high profile competitor of Google’s, currently has the most commonly used browser, Internet Explorer. The new IE8, also currently in beta, has more privacy features, which I discussed last week, that may put a crimp in Google’s ad systems. Releasing a browser of their own will further promote comparisons between Google and Microsoft in the public eye.

I encourage you to check out the Google comic intro to their Chrome web browser. It will give you insights into the workings of browsers, and some ideas of Google’s special plans.

Download the Chrome Browser

Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.