Security conscious Internet users are aware, that so called “trusted” websites, are not always to be trusted. We’ve covered this issue here on Tech Thoughts a number of times, most recently in, “How Safe Are Trusted Web Sites? Not Very!”
The following is a brief explanation, from that article, on how cyber crooks manage to infect web sites:
“Cyber-crooks can exploit vulnerabilities on the server hosting the web page to insert an iFrame, (an HTML element which makes it possible to embed another HTML document inside the main document). The iFrame can then activate the download of malicious code by exploiting additional vulnerabilities on the visiting machine”.
Unfortunately, installed anti-malware solutions may not always provide adequate protection against this type of attack. Luckily, there is a solution which can add an additional layer of security by substituting your ISP provided DNS service, with a more secure alternative. An alternative that can prevent you from visiting sites that harbor malware exploits.
Free alternatives include OpenDNS, Google DNS, Norton DNS – and now, an additional free service can be added to this list with the release of ClearCloud Beta from Sunbelt Software, the developer’s of the highly regarded VIPRE antivirus application.
According to ClearCloud, the application “checks every website address your computer is trying to access, whether you’re browsing the internet, clicking a link in an email, or a program “under the hood” trying to communicate with servers for information or updates”.
In a quick 24 hour test, I found ClearCloud worked as advertised. With ClearCloud up and running, you will be prevented from visiting sites identified as harboring exploits. In which case, you will get detailed information on why ClearCloud believes the site is unsafe.
Taking advantage of this service couldn’t be easier. Simply download the setup application, execute, and as the simply interface shown below indicates, you’re now protected by ClearCloud.
Following installation, visit the ClearCloud block page to verify the service is up and running.
System requirements: Windows, Mac.
Download at: ClearCloud
Alternatively, you can manually set your DNS server address to 22.214.171.124.
Note: You can configure ClearCloud on your router. Click here for a setup walkthrough.
A big ”Thank You” to regular reader TeX for bringing this service to my attention.
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36 responses to “Steer Clear of Malware Web Sites With ClearCloud DNS”
I decided to give this one a trial run. I hope it works out. I have Vista and a lot programs don’t play nice with it. I know I have to be careful because I have an infinity for security programs. LOL
I hear ya – I’ve got the same bug! 🙂
Another good one Bill. I just tried this out and it works just as you described.
Very cool. Should make your surfing just a little safer.
Yet another one to add to the collection. Seems to be working as described and have not noticed any hit in speed at all which is good.
Did run through VT and it did come up with one query, “PUA.Packed.PECompact-1” whatever that is?
PUA.Packed.PECompact-1, is a generic Trojan downloader, but…. There’s always that but, huh?
ClamAv, I suppose is OK operating in Linux, but in Windows it has an intolerably high false positive ratio. It shouldn’t be part of VT, in my view.
Good to see you installed this though – should keep you a little safer.
Will definitely give this a go. I ditched Norton DNS a while back, after that strange behaviour we spoke about. So it would be good to get something like this back in operation.
We’re doing that “great minds think alike” thing again. I dropped Norton as well, and will continue with ClearCloud – at least for the time being.
For some reason, the install utility didn’t want to work for me. But it’s all cool, I set up the DNS manually in Network connections, and now it’s working fine.
Very cool Mal!
It pays to be a high level user, huh?
I have it running now, I have not hit any sites that it has blocked as of yet but were running it through the mill.
Thanks again for the recommendation on this. Sunbelt has a very good rep so I’m looking forward to seeing what this can do, long term.
Somehow, I thought I learned about this from you several weeks ago. Works great, and totally easy to set up. Everyone should use this!
Good to see you here Charlie.
I mentioned this in the Daily Net News column, back in mid July, so that’s probably what you’re referring to. But, I didn’t do any testing on it until now. Glad I did – just as you say, it’s easy to set up.
Now, if you and I and TeX, and other readers here, can convince more people to use it – we could all be a little safer.
This sounds good. I’ve been using Open DNS since you recommended it. Is there anything to be gained by replacing it with Clear Cloud?
No, I don’t think so. One of the benefits of staying with what we know is – “it’s what me know”. A bit redundant, but you see my point. Unless there are substantial benefits to new software, I tend to stick with what I’ve become use to.
In other words “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. Always a good policy.
Thanks for the advice.
Or, “if it ain’t broke – improve it!”
This is a useful service but in testing with DNSBench from GRC.com it is a good bit slower than other available DNS servers that you have a choice from. But for the amount of protection it provides a few “seconds” really don’t amount to much and is not a significant reason not to use the service.
I agree – increased security can occasionally be slightly annoying. Top notch idea to test this with DNSBench – definitely a superior application.
Thanks for commenting.
I would personally try to vary the source of my layers of defense, e.g. if using Sunbelt AV (VIPRE), use a different DNS filtering service than Sunbelt. (even though Sunbelt makes a great product) to increase the possibility of a wider filtering “net”. YMMV.
Thanks for that. Definitely something to consider.
Willing to give it a try
I think you’ll find ClearCloud does a good job.
It’s pretty kewl.
Been using ClearCloud for over a month now & seen it “in action” a few times.
Kinda neato seeing it block something from happening before “it” gets there.
It’s a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned to have this on the go.
Great to have your experience on this. Thanks.
Why would I even try this?
So don’t. What I find curious is, why you’d bother making the comment.
Or even why you’re looking at this blog.
Interestingly, 949 people read this article yesterday and, 370 of them downloaded the application. So, his view is not a popular one. He’s entitled to his view of course, but less arrogance might have gotten the message across more clearly.
Thanks for commenting.
When I changed my AD DNS Forwarders to use IP 126.96.36.199 95 percent of my emails began going into the Vipre spam folder. When I removed the IP legit emails began going into the Inbox. Vipre version 3.1.25811.
That’s an issue you should take up directly with SunBelt.
imo, security (especially for the less-witting) is more vauable than dns lookup speed.
“949 people read this article yesterday and, 370 of them downloaded the application”
based on referrer?
and then you might wonder how many page-visitors simply entered the sunbelt dns ipa?
btw, doesn’t clearcloud and similar reputation services need to monitor target pages for hacks? eg, fauxnews or cnn might get hacked for a few hours, then soon clean themselves.
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Thanks for the article! Download and installation was trouble free, but then I could not connect to any sites.
It took me a few minutes to realize that I had to reboot in order to load the new settings. Guess I’m ” a low level user” ! :>)
So far, I do not see any delays in loading a site.
Off topic, would you comment on using two firewalls if the computer has enough resources? There are several utilities that can set a delay time for loading an app at start-up, so one firewall could be loaded before the other. This seems like a good idea, but, then, I’m only “a low level user”. :>) :>)
Incidentally, I’m now using the free Comodo firewall.
There’s no advantage in running 2 Firewalls simultaneously. There is, in fact, a good chance for conflict. Since you’re using the Comodo FW (one of the best), I don’t recommend an additional FW.
I will say, that I have known people who have run 2 FW back to back – generally in instances where the Windows FW has not been turned off following the installation of a third party FW.
I don’t agree that you are a “a low level user”. 🙂