Category Archives: Browser Plug-ins

Way To Go WOT! – Now Protecting 30 Million Users

imageThe Internet is one kickass place – survey after survey continue to show that cybercriminals are picking off unaware/undereducated users, as if they were shooting fish in a barrel.

It’s hardly surprising then, that an enormous industry (no, not big, not large – but, enormous) has developed, based on the principal that technology can act as a counterfoil  to the most nefarious cyber criminal schemes. Criminal schemes which are, after all, technology driven.

I’ll leave it to you to decide if this has been an effective solution.

No matter the side you come down on regarding this complex issue, dancing around naked (so to speak ) on the Internet – that is, without adequate Browser protection, is akin to fumbling and stumbling through the toughest neighborhood in your area – after dark.

Internet security starts with the Web Browser (it does not end there – but, one step at a time), and WOT (Web of Trust, which passed the 30 million user mark yesterday – January 9, 2011), substantially reduces the risk exposure that comes with wandering through the increasingly risky neighborhood that the Internet has become.

Based on the way that I surf the Web, there’s no contest as to which of the 17 add-ons I have installed on Firefox, is most important to my piece of mind. The hands down winner – the single most important add-on for my style of surfing is WOT (Web of Trust).

Sure, that’s a pretty bold statement – but, since I frequently hear from readers who, after installing WOT on their computer systems, feel reassured that they are safer than ever before, and who express a renewed sense of confidence, and  a new level of enthusiasm, while surfing the Internet, I’ll go with it.

If you’re not yet a WOT user, read the following in-depth review – you may reconsider.

What is WOT?

WOT, one of the most downloaded Firefox Add-ons at the Mozilla add-on site, (also compatible with Internet Explorer and Chrome), is a free Internet Browser resource which  investigates web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams – helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

For example, here’s a Google search in which WOT indicates which sites are safe. Notice the unsafe (red) sites, in the Google ads!


Take a look at what happens if, in fact, you do end up on an unsafe web site. WOT’s dropdown warning curtain blocks access to the site until you determine otherwise.

WOT - new

WOT operates in a unique fashion in order to offer active protection to the Internet user community. It stands out from the crowd of similar applications, by soliciting the opinions of users/members whose views on web site safety are incorporated into the overall site safety rating. According to WOT, the user community now has reputation data on over 35 million sites worldwide.

The shared information on a site’s reputation includes trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy, and child safety. As well, in order to achieve maximum security coverage, WOT uses thousands of trusted sources including phishing site listings, to keep users protected against rapidly spreading threats.


WOT integrates seamlessly with search engine results from popular search engines including Google, Yahoo, MSN and other popular sites, and provides impressive protection against Internet predators.

WOT recently added the top three web-based email services – Google Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail, to its free security protection. You can now feel more confident and secure, since WOT checks links embedded in your email, and warns you of dangerous web sites so that you can avoid spyware, spam, phishing, identity theft and other Internet scams; before you click on dangerous embedded links.

How WOT works:

The Browser add-on icon, displays a color rating for each site you visit, indicating whether a site is safe to use, should be used with caution, or avoided entirely.

Using traffic light colors, (green, yellow, and red), WOT leaves you in no doubt as to the safety rating of a web site. An impressive feature of WOT is the dropdown transparent warning curtain, shown earlier, triggered on visiting a dangerous site.

Recognizing that up to ten percent of Internet users are at a disadvantage however, due to colorblindness, and cannot rely on an Internet safety system based on color coding, the Web of Trust development team recently released an adaptive version of WOT. This version incorporates equivalent alternative information, through assistive or adaptive technology, for colorblind users.

This colorblind accessible application provides the same critical benefits to those individuals who have to contend with visual impairments, as it has to those of us who have come to rely on WOT as a major defense against the pervasive hazards we encounter on the Internet.

Quick facts – WOT checks the following on each web site visited:


Vendor reliability


Child Safety

More quick facts:

Ratings for over 30 million websites

The WOT browser add-on is light and updates automatically

WOT rating icons appear beside search results in Google, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Gmail, etc.

Settings can be customized to better protect your family

WOT Security Scorecard shows rating details and user comments

Works with Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome

Interface supports English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish and Finnish.

System requirements: Windows (all), Mac OS X, Linux

Download at: MyWot

Surf more securely by installing this browser add-on which will provide you with an in-depth site analysis based on real world results. Keep in mind however, that you are your own best protection. Stop · Think · Click.


Filed under Browser add-ons, Browser Plug-ins, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Internet Safety Tools

Get Ready For School With These 35 Free Computer Apps

Heading back to school? Make your life easier and checkout these free PC applications.


Take a look at the following recommended free downloads that will help you communicate, get those assignments done, have some fun, and manage and protect your system while you’re surfing the Internet.

These applications have riding out the storm of new competitors, and have developed a strong, loyal following, based on their reliability and functionality.

Process those words:

Nitro PDF:

With its ability to not only view and review PDF files, but create PDF files as well, it’s little wonder Nitro PDF Reader has amassed such a large following. I have to say that Nitro PDF Reader is my favorite PDF tool so, I’m more than a little enthusiastic to get on the go with this latest release.

Version 2 continues the strong tradition which Nitro has established with previous version – it’s fast, lightweight, and incorporates customizable security controls, including the option to completely disable JavaScript – no small consideration for security conscious users.

Listen N Write:

Anyone who has to transcribe recorded audio should try Listen N Write, a free tool designed specifically for transcription. Perfect for lectures.


LibreOffice is the power-packed free (open source) personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and GNU/Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base.


AbiWord is a free light weight word processing program similar to Microsoft Word. It is suitable for a wide variety of word processing tasks.

AbiWord allows you to collaborate with multiple people on one document at the same time. It is tightly integrated with the web service, which lets you store documents online, allows easy document sharing with your friends, and performs format conversions on the fly.


WordWeb is a one-click English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows that can look up words in almost any program. It works off-line, but can also look up words in web references such as the Wikipedia encyclopedia.

Manipulate and correct your pics – put them online:

FastStone Image Viewer:

This is one of my favorite photo applications, with good reason. It’s not just a viewer, but an image browser, converter, and an editor as well. You’ll find the interface intuitive and very easy to use. This program is loaded with features including, renaming, cropping, color adjustments, lossless JPEG transformation, drop shadow effects, image frames, scanner support, histogram and much more.


With IrfanView you can fix and enhance digital photos including resizing, cropping, correcting red eye, flipping, and rotating. As well, you can perform a wide variety of image adjustments, including brightness, contrast, and applying special effects such as sharpen and blur. I’ve been using this neat little program (every day) for years, and with each new release it just keeps getting better.

Google Picasa:

A free application that helps you locate and organize all the photos on your computer, edit and add effects with a few simple clicks, and share your photos with others through email, prints, and on the web.

Play those tunes:


Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It’s available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. Definitely the best of breed.


According to Apple, this is the world’s best digital music jukebox. Download music, TV shows, movies, and more.


A multimedia player that supports numerous audio and video formats. It also plays streamed video and audio content. Winamp is designed for people who like to customize, tinker and tweak: offering the widest range of extensions, skins, and services to add to your listening experience.

Watch your fav videos:


Miro is a free application designed to be easy to use and to give you an elegant full screen viewing experience. Not only can Miro play virtually any video in HD, including, QuickTime, WMV, MPEG, AVI, and XVID, but on top of that this application, which sports major changes from previous editions, is effectively a media management center.


VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols.

Free Video To iPhone Converter:

Convert video files to Apple iPhone MP4 video format. Convert the whole movie or select a partition from the movie to convert (trim video).

iPod Video Converter:

Free iPod Video Converter provides an easy and completed way to convert all popular video formats to iPod video. You can enjoy DVD/VCD and AVI, MPEG, WMV, RM, RMVB, DivX, ASF, VOB video files in your iPod with few clicks.

Better browsing:


Firefox includes tons of useful features such as tabbed browsing, built-in and customizable search bars, a built-in RSS reader and a huge library of extensions developed by thousand of developers.


The fastest browser on Earth – but that’s not all. Use Opera Turbo to double your page-download speed on slow connections. Download Opera now and get more from the Web.

Google Chrome:

A browser that combines a minimal design with new technology designed to improve the user experience. Includes download and documentation.

Web of Trust (WOT):

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

Cocoon for Firefox:

Protect your privacy and security online with this Firefox add-on, which has on-the-fly e-mail dropboxes and lets you watch Netflix from outside the U.S.

Protect your system:

Immunet Protect – Free Cloud Based Antivirus Application:

Immunet Protect is a lightweight cloud based, community driven, antivirus application, (available in both a free, and a paid version), designed to add a layer of protection while working in partnership with the most popular antimalware solutions.

Microsoft Security Essentials:

Microsoft Security Essentials, which incorporates antivirus, antispyware and rootkit protection, all under one roof, was released by Microsoft as a free  replacement application for the late, and unlamented, Windows Live OneCare.


ThreatFire blocks malware (including zero-day threats) by analyzing program behavior, instead of relying only on a signature based database. ThreatFire works together with your signature based security applications, to increase the effectiveness of your total security arsenal.

SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition:

The free version of this award winning program, is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers. And why not? SUPERAntiSpyware is well known for its high malware detection rate. A simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface makes SUPERAntiSpyware straightforward to setup, customize, and run, for both less experienced and expert users alike.

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware has an excellent reputation (shared by me), as a first class security application, for its ability to identify and remove adware, Trojans, key-loggers, home page hijackers, and other malware threats.

PC Tools Firewall Plus 7:

I’ve been running with PC Tools Firewall since I installed Win 7 and I have been impressed with its performance. It installed easily, set up quickly, and has not caused any conflicts with my machine. The default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for less experience users. Experienced users on the other hand can tinker to their hearts content, customizing and tweaking the application to meet their specific requirements.

Staying in touch:

Windows Live Essentials 2011:

Do more with Windows on your PC with free programs from Microsoft for photos, movies, instant messaging, email, social networking, and more. Get it all in one simple download.


A multi-protocol Instant Messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once. Pidgin can work with: AIM, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, ICQ, IRC, MSN, Yahoo!, MySpace IM and many more.


A fully featured, stand-alone, chat client that supports AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, and IRC.


In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls, across the globe. As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

System Tools:


You can monitor your startup programs and services, cookies and current tasks. Should you need to, WinPatrol allows you to terminate processes and enable, or disable, startup programs. There are additional features that make WinPatrol a very powerful addition to your security applications.


CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast; normally taking less than a second to run.


You can configure Autoruns to show additional locations, including Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and more. Autoruns goes considerably beyond the MSConfig utility bundled with Windows.

Glary Utilities:

Glary Utilities, a free all-in-one utility, is a terrific collection of system tools and utilities to fix, speed up, maintain and protect your PC. Personal experience with this application for the last 2 years has convinced me that a typical user can really benefit by having this application on their system. With this free program you can tweak, repair, optimize and improve your system’s performance; and its ease of operation makes it ideal for less experienced users.

Revo Uninstaller:

Revo Uninstaller is a superior program to uninstall programs from your computer. This free program with its advanced and fast algorithm scans before, and after you uninstall an application. After the program’s regular uninstaller runs, you can remove additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys that are usually left over (those “orphaned” registry entries we talked about earlier), on your computer. This feature is a definite plus.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.


Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Audio Applications, Browser Plug-ins, Chrome, Computer Tools, Digital Media, downloads, Free Office Suites, Free PDF Software, Malware Protection, MS Word Alternatives, Multimedia Tools, Photo Tools, Software, Video Apps, Windows Tips and Tools, Writing Aids

Clean Up With Click&Clean Firefox and Chrome Extension

imageIf there’s one thing regular readers here seem to agree on it’s – CCleaner is an awesome application. You can count me in the “awesome application” appreciation group. This free system cleaner is still my “go to” application for simple system cleanup.

CCleaner users know, that running this venerable utility can help keep a system clean by emptying the Recycle Bin, Temporary Setup Files, Downloaded Program Files, Temporary Internet Files, Old Chkdsk Files, Temporary Files, Temporary Offline Files, Offline Files, and more.


Generally, I would run CCleaner once a day – if I could remember to do so. I’ve now discovered a “no need to remember” way to launch CCleaner automatically, whenever I close my Browsers – either Firefox, or Chrome.

Click&Clean is a free Firefox and Chrome extension which not only does a major cleanup job on Browser activity in its own right (see fast facts), but the application can be set to launch CCleaner automatically (for a deeper and more secure cleaning), on Browser shut down. Additional external applications (rather than CCleaner), which can be set to run automatically include – Wise Disk Cleaner Free, Computer Janitor, and BleachBit.

Setup is simple and straightforward. From within the options menu, you can choose which external application you wish to run.


For convenience, you can add an extension icon to the Browser’s navigation Toolbar, as illustrated below.



Fast facts:

Delete your browsing history
Clear records from your download history
Remove cookies and Empty cache
Delete temporary files
Remove Flash Local Shared Objects (LSO)
Delete private data when Firefox closes
Automatically close all windows/tabs
Clean up your hard drives and Free up more disk space – including secure file deletion
Launch external applications, like CCleaner, Wise Disk Cleaner etc. on Windows – or Janitor, BleachBit, etc. on Linux

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Linux, Mac

Download the Firefox version at: Mozilla

Download the Chrome version at: The Chrome Web store

The Chrome version has several additional features not available in the Firefox version.


If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

WordPress: This is your 2,407th post. Woohoo!


Filed under Browser add-ons, Browser Plug-ins, Browsers, Chrome Add-ons, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Google Chrome, Linux, Mac, Software, Ubuntu, Windows Tips and Tools

NEW – Nitro PDF Reader Version 2 Launched Today

imageFollowing a year long beta testing period, Nitro PDF Reader Version 2, has hit the bricks with it’s official launching today. As an indication of just how popular this application is – during the beta test period, it was downloaded an astonishing 8 million times.

With its ability to not only view and review PDF files, but create PDF files as well, it’s little wonder Nitro PDF Reader has amassed such a large following. I have to say that Nitro PDF Reader is my favorite PDF tool so, I’m more than a little enthusiastic to get on the go with this latest release.

Version 2 continues the strong tradition which Nitro has established with previous version – it’s fast, lightweight, and incorporates customizable security controls, including the option to completely disable JavaScript – no small consideration for security conscious users.

Sample screens – Click on any screen shot to expand to original size.

Standard screen


Fill in form




Fast facts:

Nitro PDF Reader 2.0 includes the following features and enhancements:

Web Browser Integration preview PDF files from within Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Microsoft Internet Explorer

Nitro PDF Creator 2 all-new PDF creation engine enables users to create PDF files up to 4 times faster, with 50% reduction in file size

Optimized Rendering Engine draw and display PDF files on-screen faster with crisp rendering of text and graphics

QuickSign import a scanned image of your handwritten signature to sign and return documents electronically in just seconds

Optional Content Group (OCG) Layers show and hide content layers within PDF files with support for printing layer views and scripting OCG interaction in form controls

XFA Form Support fill-in and save static XML Form Architecture (XFA) forms

Hundreds more significant enhancements updated Ribbon UI, workflow refinements, improved performance, and more

If you really want to be impressed with just how much capability is built into this application, then visit the developer’s feature page.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 (32 bit  and 64 bit, Vista and Win 7).

Available languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Download at: Nitro PDF Reader

If you’re tired of working with that malware magnet, Adobe Reader – I think you’ll find that PDF Reader 2.0 is the substitute you’ve been searching for. On top of that – how do you beat FREE!

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.


Filed under 64 Bit Software, Browser Plug-ins, downloads, Free PDF Software, Freeware, Integrated Solutions, Productivity Software, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Web of Trust (WOT) And Facebook Collaborate To Protect Users From Malicious Links

imageIf you’re a Facebook user and you haven’t met a cybercriminal yet; hang in there – you will. Survey after survey continue to show that cybercriminals are picking off Facebook users as if they were shooting fish in a barrel.

Most cybercriminal schemes on Facebook are outrageous. But the bad guys know, that even the most outrageous schemes stand a better than average chance of being successful when targeted at Facebook’s largely unaware, and unsophisticated, user base.

With the collaborative effort announced today by Facebook and Web of Trust, WOT will now provide protection against dubious and malicious web links, that Facebook users continue to be exposed to. When a Facebook user clicks a link that leads to a page with a poor reputation rating as defined by the WOT community, Facebook will show a clear warning message.

Click on graphic to expand to original.


The plan is to roll out to US users 100% on May 12, and then the following week, after the translators have time to finish their work, roll out globally.

A quick reminder:

WOT’s Browser add-on users see reputation icons on Web sites, Google search results, email links, Twitter, as well as shortened URLs. WOT ratings are recalculated every 30 minutes to ensure users have the freshest and most reliable information. The free WOT add-on works in all web browsers and can be downloaded here.

You can read a full review on the benefits of adding WOT to your Browser here on this site – WOT (Web of Trust) – Is It The Most Important Browser Security Add-on You Need To Install?

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.


Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Browser Plug-ins, Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, FaceBook, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Malware Protection, Online Safety, social networking, Social Networks, Software, Windows Tips and Tools, WOT (Web of Trust)

Free G Data CloudSecurity – Blocks Known Malware And Phishing Websites

As we reported several days ago in Search Engine Results – More Malware Surprises Than Ever!, poisoned search engine results have proven to be a gold mine for the bad guys who, naturally, continue to be unrelenting in their chase to infect web searches.

Since drive-by downloads, which don’t require user action to create an infection, are resident on many of these compromised sites, this is unhappy news for the unwary Internet user.

To reduce the chances that you will be victimized by malicious search engine results, you should consider installing an appropriate Browser add-on, or if necessary, add-ons, to increase your safety margin. A list of recommended add-ons follows later in this article. But first, take a look at a new Firefox/Internet Explorer add-on, G Data CloudSecurity – passed on by regular reader Charlie L.

According to G Data, the plugin “effectively blocks access to known malware distribution and phishing websites – in real time. The plugin can be used alongside any other installed security suite and is ready for action after installing; no additional configuring required.”

Taking advantage of this service couldn’t be easier. Simply download the setup application, and execute. Following installation, you’ll notice a new icon in your browser which indicates  G Data CloudSecurity is up and running.


Clicking on the icon opens a dropdown menu which provides access to a number of functions.


The screen capture below shows G Data CloudSecurity in action – blocking a suspicious, or dangerous Web site.


Fast facts:

Compatible with all other security products

Prevents access to malware and phishing websites

Install once – no updates required

PC performance remains unaffected

Download at: Developer’s site. (G Data)

Additional Internet Browser Protection:

It’s not prudent to rely on only one form of protection, it seems to me, so take a look at the following browser security add-ons that are noted for their effectiveness.

It’s important to recognize that cyber-criminals are crafty, and there are no perfect solutions.

Web of Trust (WOT) WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on (my personal favorite), that has established an impressive and well deserved reputation. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites. (installed on my computer)

Search Engine Security – Search Engine Security turns the table on the bad guys by using using a technique familiar to most hackers – appearing to be something you’re not. Or, more properly, appearing to come from a location you’re not really at. (installed on my computer)

Basically, the add-on changes the HTTP referrer (selectable by you), in the search string so that when you click on a returned link it appears to the link site that you have not arrived from Bing, Google, or Yahoo.

McAfee SiteAdvisor A free browser add-on that adds small site rating icons to your search results as well as a browser button and optional search box. Together, these alert you to potentially risky sites and help you find safer alternatives. These site ratings are based on tests conducted by McAfee using an army of computers that look for all kinds of threats.

ThreatExpert Browser Defender – The Browser Defender toolbar allows you to surf safely by displaying site ratings as you browse the Internet. When you visit a site its address will be checked by our servers and a rating shown in the toolbar based on any malicious behavior or threats we have found associated with the site. The toolbar also integrates with the search results provided by popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo! so you can see if, in our view, it is safe to continue before you visit a site.

AVG Security Toolbar Free Edition AVG’s unique Search-Shield, available with the AVG Security Toolbar Free Edition, marks all web pages which are infected by zero day exploits and drive-by downloads. This powerful LinkScanner based technology works in real-time to provide comprehensive protection. Other programs rely on static databases and cannot protect you at the only time that matters – the time you click on a link.

TrendProtect – TrendProtect is a free browser plug-in that helps you avoid Web pages with unwanted content and hidden threats. TrendProtect rates the current page and pages listed in Google, MSN, and Yahoo search results. You can use the rating to decide if you want to visit or avoid a given Web page. To rate Web pages, TrendProtect refers to an extensive database that covers billions of Web pages.

Bottom line:

While G Data CloudSecurity does what it says it will do, my personal preference is unchanged. WOT (Web of Trust), backed up by Search Engine Security, is a more appropriates solution.

I’ve reviewed and recommended a bag full of Browser security add-ons in the past few months, or so. No disrespect intended to those developers who have the public’s interest at heart when they develop Browser security add-ons, but…..

Am I the only one who thinks that building protection into my Brower in this potluck fashion, has reached the height of ridiculousness?

Isn’t it long past the time, when a Browsers should be built with the most appropriate form of protection already on board?

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.


Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Browser add-ons, Browser Plug-ins, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Malware Protection, Search Engines, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Test Your Browser’s Security With Free Qualys BrowserCheck

imageData released this week, by Qualys, a security industry leader in vulnerability assessment and management, at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, continues to indicate that Browser plug-ins are frequently outdated and easily attackable.

Analysis of scanned data captured from 200,000+ Qualys BrowserCheck users’ worldwide, indicates that approximately 70% had a least one plug-in vulnerability.

No great surprise that Sun Java, and Adobe Flash and Reader, led the pack.

This research suggests, that you can load up your Internet Browser with every security add-on you like, but if there’s even one security hole – you’re still at risk.

Regular readers will remember that we’ve previously reviewed and recommended Qualys BrowserCheck, which will check your Web Browser for selected security holes in both the browser, and browser plug-ins.

BrowserCheck is itself a plug-ins, and like most plug-ins, it’s very easy to install. Simply visit the Qualys site; install the plug-in, revisit the Qualys site (if necessary) – and you’re all set to launch the test.

My first test run was on Internet Explorer 8, as the following screen captures show.


As the scan results indicate – my Internet Explorer 8 is in terrible shape. I should point out however, that I never use any version of Internet Explorer.


With Firefox running, the results looked like this.


It seems I’ve been bad, and not kept my java Runtime updated – the very plug which is most likely to be hacked! The only defense I have (and it’s a poor one at that), is – this is a test machine which is rarely connected to the Internet. As well, my PDF reader has an update available.


Continuing with the test, I clicked on the  “Fix it” button which immediately took me to the Java update site so that I could download the latest version of Java Runtime.


Following the installation of the Java update, I reran the test to ensure the vulnerable condition had been closed.


Fast facts: The following items are detected:

Windows OS support expiration

Browser version (IE 6.0+, Firefox 3.0+, Chrome 4.0+)

Adobe Flash Player

Adobe Reader 5.x and above

Adobe Shockwave Player

Apple Quicktime

BEA JRockit

Microsoft Silverlight

Microsoft Windows Media Player

Real Player

Sun Java

Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) plug-in for Mozilla browsers

Additionally, you can test your currently installed Browser for security holes, by taking the free Browser Security test offered by Scanit, a technology company which provides services ranging from high-tech penetration testing over application source code review, risk assessments and management-level security audits, to security courses.

The test is fairly comprehensive and supports Internet Explorer, Mozilla Browsers (Firefox), and Opera. Additional components check for vulnerabilities in selected plug-ins, including Flash and QuickTime.

To test your Browser go to Browser Security test, and follow the simple instructions.

Note: This morning, I had some difficulty loading the Scanit site. Hopefully, this is not permanent.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

1 Comment

Filed under Application Vulnerabilities, Browser Plug-ins, Browsers, cybercrime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety Tools, Malware Protection, Online Safety, Safe Surfing, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Replace Gmail’s Ads With Rapportive – A Free Social Network Tool

If you use Gmail, then you know that it can be difficult to ignore the mass of Ads which Google salts into your Inbox pane. I hear from many Gmail users that they find these Ads both annoying, and distracting. On the other hand, it’s fair to say, that there are those who find the Ads provide useful links and products.


There are a number of ways to stop these Ads from running, if you find them annoying. If you’re a Firefox user install the WebMail Ad Blocker add-on. Or, if you’re a Chrome user install the Chrome extension – Hide Gmail Ads. Instead of the Ads, you will be left with white space.

Rather than simply letting the white space sit there uselessly, you can put it to work. Rapportive, a Browser plugin which is compatible with Firefox, Safari, and Chrome, replaces Google’s Ads with available information on the sender and the email address, which can include – who they are, where they’re located, what they do, and any additional information which is available from social network sites.

It wouldn’t be reasonable (given privacy considerations), to show Rapportive at work using a contact as an example, so I’ve used a test email to myself to illustrate.


While Rapportive may not be for everyone, for socially active users I see it as a worthwhile “keep in touch” tool, since it keys in on social networks. At a personal level, since I receive quite a number of emails from technology companies every day, I’ve found the information Rapportive provides, very helpful.

I now have much more information regarding the company, and company contact person, than I had access to previously, which allows contact on a more personal level – always a good thing in business.

Operating Systems: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7.

Requirements: Gmail account; Firefox, Safari, Mailplane, Chrome.

Download at: Rapportive

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.


Filed under Browser add-ons, Browser Plug-ins, Chrome, Chrome Add-ons, downloads, Email, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Gmail, Google, Google Chrome, Interconnectivity, Safari add-ons, Social Networks, Software

AddonFox – A Multi Firefox Add-on Download Wizard

imageThroughout the year, we’ve looked at a number of what I call ”bulk downloaders” – services/applications that download and install multiple user selected applications, in one pass.

So far this year we’ve looked at Ninite, which provides a generous listing of freeware applications, LiberKey which installs up to 180+portable applications, and ZeuAPP, which makes it easy to download a host of freeware programs. As well, we looked at a number of others that, in the end, were not up to the task.

The basic premise with all these services/applications is – you choose your applications from a smorgasbord menu.

I must admit, that based on readers’ comments, these applications are not as popular as I expected. Who knew? Still, given that I perform an OS reinstall at six month intervals on each of my home machines, I find this type of application, especially Ninite, a valuable addition to my utility toolbox.

Linkular, has taking this multi download concept to another level by releasing AddonFox, which is described as “an install wizard for Firefox addons, enabling users to choose which categories they are interested in. The user is then presented with a list of extensions to choose from, which are then installed en masse.”

The following screen captures should give you a good feel for what you can expect if you choose to install this extension/wizard.


For illustrative purposes, I have chosen to display both the “Customization” and the “Media” add-on menus, only.



Clicking on any “More Info” link opens that particular add-on’s information page. In this representative example, I clicked on the Cooliris “More Info” link which then opened the appropriate page.


AddonFox includes over 100 add-ons in its smorgasbord style menu, neatly broken down into the following categories.











There’s not much point in reinventing the wheel, so the following information has been taken directly from the publisher’s Mozilla page.

Main Features

✔ Multiple addons are installed automatically according to your choice (We have over a hundred in the collection)
✔ Each addon is accompanied by a concise description and a link for more information
✔ You can personalize AddonFox by adding or removing addons after initial installation
✔ Many addons are configurable for a better user experience
When initially installing AddonFox, not all the addons included are on by default. We started you off with our editors’ choices but you can always add or remove any addon to suit your personal needs.

The following categories and addons are included:


Add to Search Bar – Make any pages’ search functionality available in the Search Bar
Autofill Forms – Enables you to fill out web forms with one click or a keyboard shortcut
Firefox Sync – Access your history, passwords, bookmarks, and open tabs across your devices
Google Shortcuts – Display all of your Google Services as buttons anywhere you like
Greasemonkey – Customize any site using thousands of user scripts
Menu Editor – Rearrange menu items in the context menu and the main menu bar
New Tab King – Adds most visited sites, recently closed tabs, and suggested sites to new tabs
Organize Search Engines – Organize your search engines with separators and folders
Organize Status Bar – Organize your status bar icons
QuickJava – Quick enable and disable of Java, Javascript, Flash, Silverlight and images
Samfind Bookmarks Bar – Quickest, easiest way to access your favorite websites
Speed Dial – Direct access to your most visited websites
Tab Mix Plus – Duplicate tabs, control tab focus, undo closed tabs and windows, etc.


Download Manager Tweak – Open the download manager in a tab or sidebar, and get more info
Download Statusbar – View and manage downloads from a tidy statusbar
DownThemAll – Download manager and accelerator
NetVideoHunter – Download videos and music from video sites like Youtube
SkipScreen – Skips unnecessary pages on sites like Rapidshare, Megaupload, zShare, etc.
Destroy the Web – Turn any webpage into a shoot-em up video game
FootieFox – Live soccer scores for over 200 leagues and cups of 60 countries
Kidoz TV – Turn your browser into a safe kids Web TV, safe easy and fun
KidZui – Turns Firefox into fun, kid-safe browser and online playground for kids 3-12
Puzzle – Turn any image to puzzle pieces and play
StumbleUpon – Get random websites suited to your tastes with one click
Zoodles – Turn Firefox into a safe, virtual playground for kids 3-8
Billeo – Flags your search results where discounts and promotions are available
Context Search – Changes the context menu search into a menu with installed search engines
Feedly – Organizes your favorite sources in a magazine-like start page
Forecastfox – Adds live international weather forecast icons to the statusbar
FoxClocks – Puts small world clocks in your statusbar
Linkification – Converts text links into genuine, clickable links
Open IT Online – Open documents and images online without the need of additional software
PriceTrace – Do price comparison between online stores like Amazon, Newegg, Walmart, etc.
ReloadEvery – Reloads web pages every so many seconds or minutes
ReminderFox – Displays and manages lists of reminders and ToDo’s
Resurrect Pages – When going to a missing page, easily search for cached version of it
SimilarWeb – Instant access to the best sites related to the one you are browsing
WindowShopper – Instantly compare prices, find deals, and see similar items as you shop


Converter – Contextual unit, timezone, and currency converter on any web site
Dictionary Switcher – Switch between installed dictionaries and the current one in the statusbar
FoxLingo – Web page and text translator, dictionary, grammar checker, text-to-speech, etc.
Quick Locale Switcher – Switch Firefox default language
Cooliris – Scroll an infinite 3D Wall of content from Facebook, Google, YouTube, Flickr, etc.
ImageZoom – Adds zoom and rotation functionality for images – gives you access to the extensive music library on
FireShot – Creates screenshots of web pages with editing and annotation tools
Flash Game Maximizer – Click a button or hit the hot-key to maximize (almost) any Flash content
FlashVideoReplacer – Replace embedded flash videos with mplayer compatible videos
FoxyTunes – Control almost any media player and find lyrics, covers, videos, bios, etc.
MediaPlayerConnectivity – Launch online videos in an external application
Picnik – Add a menu options and a toolbar icon for editing images online
Screengrab – Save webpages as images (saves an entire page, just a selection, or a frame)
TinEye Reverse Image Search – Find where an image came from and if it has a better version
TweakMDB – The Ultimate IMDB Enhancer, instantly add many tweaks to
TweakTube – The Ultimate YouTube Enhancer, instantly add many tweaks to YouTube
VideoSurf – Get visual video summaries and related videos on Twitter, Google, YouTube, etc.


Addon Developer Helper – Restart Firefox, restart and clear XPCOM cache, or restart chrome
Console2 – Improves the JavaScript console with filtering, removing duplicates, and more
Extended Statusbar – A Statusbar with speed, percentage, time and loaded size
Firebug – Edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page
FireFTP – FTP client
FoxyProxy – An advanced proxy management tool
HttpFox – HTTP analyzer
IE Tab – View sites in Internet Explorer within a Firefox tab
Nightly Tester Tools – Use addons that don’t support the newest Firefox version
Pixel Perfect – Overlay a webpage image on top of an actual webpage (requires Firebug)
SQLite Manager – Manage any SQLite database on your computer
Web Developer – Adds a menu and a toolbar with various web developer tools
YSlow – Analyzes web pages and why they’re slow based on Yahoo!’s rules
Security & Privacy
Adblock Plus – Blocks ads automatically on any web page
BetterPrivacy – A safeguard which protects from LSO’s on Google, YouTube, Ebay, etc.
BlockSite – BlockSite is an extension, which automagically blocks websites of your choice
Flashblock – Blocks Flash from automatically playing
Ghostery – Protect your privacy, see who’s tracking your web browsing and block them
LastPass Password Manager – Online password manager and form filler
LinkExtend – Provides meta-site-ratings for computer safety, child safety, popularity, etc.
NoScript – Allow active content (like Javascript) to run only from sites you trust
Password Exporter – Export your saved passwords to XML or CSV files that can be imported
ProCon – Filter web pages containing explicit content based on text on websites
Tamper Data – Use tamperdata to view and modify HTTP/HTTPS headers and post parameters
Unhide Passwords – Shows passwords as you are typing them in password fields
AddThis – Share any page using social networking, bookmarking, blogging, and e-mail services
Better Gmail – Extra features for Gmail including hierarchical labels, attachment icons, and more
ChatZilla – A clean, easy to use and highly extensible Internet Relay Chat (IRC) client
Integrated Gmail – Combines Gmail with Google Calendar, Google Reader, Gmail Labs, and more
Facebook Dislike – Add a Dislike feature on Facebook.
Facebook Like – Share web pages you like and see how many people like the page you are on
FaceMoods – Add animated smileys and crazy emoticons to your Facebook chat
TwitterBar – Post to Twitter from your address bar
WebMail Notifier – Checks your webmail accounts and notifies the number of unread emails
WiseStamp – Empower your email signatures in Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, AOL, etc.
Yoono – Get updates, update your status, and share across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.


ColorfulTabs – Colors every tab in a different color and makes them easy to distinguish
Default FullZoom Level – Change or reset zoom level of a page from the statusbar
Fission – Combines address bar and progress bar (Safari style)
FoxTab – Flip between open tabs with a 3D display
Hide Caption Titlebar Plus – Maximize screen space by removing the Firefox window title-bar
NoSquint – Change zoom levels and color settings for all sites or per site
Personas Plus – Skins for Firefox (over 60,000 designs)
Readability – Makes reading on the Web better by removing clutter around what you’re reading
Searchbar Autosizer – Autosizes the searchbar as you type
Smart Bookmarks Bar – Hide bookmark names from the bookmark bar
Smart Stop/Reload – Combines the Stop and Reload toolbar buttons
SmoothWheel – Scrolls the page smoothly when scrolling the mouse wheel
Stylish – Install user generated themes and skins for any website
Tab Progress Bar – Provides a progress meter for each tab

Overall, I think this add-on has value. Particularly for those techies who volunteer as the “IT department”, for friends and relatives. Or, for those users who want to quickly get an idea of the categories available in the ever expanding world of Firefox add-ons.

Download at: Mozilla

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.


Filed under Browser add-ons, Browser Plug-ins, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

How Safe Is Your Browser? – Test Your Browser’s Security With Scanit

You can load up your Internet Browser with every security add-on you like, but if the base Browser has even one security hole – you’re still at risk.

You can test your currently installed Browser for security holes, by taking the free Browser Security test offered by Scanit, a technology company which provides services ranging from high-tech penetration testing over application source code review, risk assessments and management-level security audits, to security courses.

The test is fairly comprehensive and supports Internet Explorer, Mozilla Browsers (Firefox), and Opera. Additional components check for vulnerabilities in selected plug-ins, including Flash and QuickTime.

To test your Browser go to Browser Security test, and follow the simple instructions.


Happily, my results showed no vulnerabilities.


An additional test, (recently spotlighted here), focusing on selected security holes in both the Browser, and Browser plug-ins, is available with BrowserCheck, a free tool from Qualys.


As an added security measure, take BrowserCheck for a test drive. According to available information, all major Windows web browsers are supported.

BrowserCheck is itself a plug-in, and like most plug-ins, it’s very easy to install. Simply visit the Qualys site; install the plug-in, and you’re all set.

My friends over at the TTC Shelbyville – Technical Blog (Tennessee Technology Center at Shelbyville, Tennessee), recently posted an article on Scanit’s Browser Security test, which prompted me to do likewise. Thanks guys.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.


Filed under Browser Plug-ins, Browsers, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Software, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools