Tag: Windows OS

Security Vulnerability found in Google Chrome Running on Windows

The most secure features of Google Chrome, including Sandbox, ASLR and DEP, were simply bypassed by VUPEN security researchers. The vulnerability is for the most latest version of Google Chrome (v11.0.696.65) for Windows.

The vulnerability is found to be impacting all Windows based computers running 32 bit as well as 64 bit OS. The vulnerability was exploited by just making the user visit a specially prepared web page containing a sophisticated code that will execute various payloads to ultimately download and start any program. The program runs silently without even crashing Google Chrome after executing the payload. The program launches outside the sandbox but at medium integrity level. However, most malware today doesn’t necessarily need to have a high integrity level to run.

As the vulnerability is not publicized, Chrome users can stay out of panic.

Windows 7 Search – a Blunder of Microsoft

The major factor that makes Microsoft win over Linux or Unix in OS wars, is its ease in usability. Windows has made operating computer an easy thing even for a non-techie. The reason why we still bear the vulnerabilities in Windows and Microsoft’s overwhelming patches without complaining, is definitely that you cannot get an alternative for an easily operatable OS as Windows.

However, after Windows XP, Microsoft seems to be kind of losing track somewhere. That certainly explains the failure of Vista, despite the success of its preceding version – XP. Windows 7 was released with much hype. In fact the methods used by Microsoft to shift users from Windows XP to Windows 7 seemed exotic. Still many of them, due to unbearable number of patches and vulnerabilities reported for XP, migrated to Windows 7 hoping for more security rather than improvised features.

However, after a few days you see the number of people who want to stick to XP increasing, rather than the number of people who want to shift. The reason behind this is that Microsoft has replaced many functional features in Win 7 with fancy ones. The search feature is one of them. Microsoft should have reconsidered before bluntly replacing a very friendly search box of Windows XP with the dysfunctional Win 7 search box.

Windows XP Search

Here is the list of differences between Win 7 and Win XP search:
Windows XP search feature was the best of all Windows versions. Firstly we will start with the 2 text boxes in Windows XP search (refer to the Win XP Search image given) – one for searching all or part of a file name and the other to search for a word or phrase in the file. This was replaced with a universal search box (refer to Windows 7 Search image below) which searches only the file names for the parameters given.

And what should you do to search for a word or phrase inside the file? Well thats a lengthy process where you will have to change the settings in folder options. However, after changing the settings, the search bar will start searching the contents in your files – every time, consuming lots of time and the PC process.

The date-modified criteria and the size criteria were retained in Windows 7. However, in Win 7 you cannot search for files modified between specific dates.

The More advanced options in XP with options – search system folders, search hidden files and folders, case sensitive, search tape backup were favorites of Win XP users. All these check boxes, drop down menus and radio buttons which used to help in customizing search, were replaced with nothing.

Windows 7 Search

Now Microsoft asks you to use syntaxes to narrow down your Win 7 search results. These include kind (for specifying type of file), genre, property, etc. If someone were to learn syntaxes to use Windows OS, can’t they learn syntaxes of Linux or Unix operations instead? At least they will get rid off vulnerabilities and additional work of updating Windows by doing so.

These operators often remind me the Google search operators. But Google itself is now trying to improve user-friendly interface with one-click links (refer to the Google Search image here), which will narrow the search results. We don’t understand why Microsoft, instead of improving interface, is trying to go fancy with looks and losing features.

Overall, several features were removed from Windows XP to trim down Windows 7 search box. Isn’t it the obese people that try to trim their excess fat. If a normal person becomes slim, he looks diseased. Were Windows XP search features obese? Definitely not.

If you have already shifted to Windows 7 or are forced to move to Windows 7, and are concerned about the deprived search features, you can use search software like Copernic. However, this will cost you extra, apart from the charges of an authentic license of Win 7. If you are planning to install any free software, it will be a riskier step. Thanks to the vulnerable operating systems of Microsoft.

Ultimately, if one would like to stick or shift back to Windows XP from Windows 7, the search feature will be one of the prominent reasons. Most of other changes made in Windows 7, along with the search feature, seemed to be made for the sake of change rather than for enhancing usability.

How Safe is Adobe Reader X for Windows?

Ad Serving solutionsVulnerabilities in commonly used and popular software applications were being exploited by the hackers to contaminate the PCs. Adobe PDF Reader was one of the most commonly exploited software.

Adobe Reader 9 was known for its vulnerabilities in the year 2010, which kept evolving despite the number of security patches released by Adobe. In order to check it, Adobe Reader X was released with security enhancements like sandboxing protection for Windows XP/Vista/7 and protected mode view. However, the safety in using Adobe Reader X, especially for Windows OS is still questionable.

Security in 2010 for Adobe Reader
Adobe applications were already the most targeted client-software by attackers during the last quarter of 2009. A report from McAfee came up saying that Adobe Reader and Flash, will be the primary target for attacks in 2010. According to National Vulnerability Database, there have been around 60 vulnerabilities reported for Adobe Reader and Acrobat for Mac, nearly all of which are rated with a “high” severity, since January 2010. In some cases, the vulnerabilities were released after they were already exploited.

The number of security patches addressing critical security vulnerabilities have increased for the version 9 of Adobe Reader. Amid these, Adobe came up with Adobe Acrobat X (version 10.0) on November 15, 2010.

Why Adobe Reader was targeted?
While there are many other PDF readers in the market, Adobe is heard much of all in terms of security vulnerabilities. This can be because of –

  • Adobe Reader supports JavaScript and Flash within PDFs. This creates opportunities for attackers to embed malicious codes in PDFs using these programming languages, that execute when you open the file.
  • Adobe Reader supports embedded content for which it uses Parser (a bit of software) to interpret the content and display it properly. However, each bit of parsing code is a potential point of failure and is mostly exploited by hackers. Malformed content is used in PDFs to crash the parser and execute a memory corruption attack on the PC.
  • The popularity of Adobe due to its support to the Windows is also one of the reasons why it is mostly targeted. Windows being the major OS with 91% market share in client PCs and Adobe being used in most of these PCs, hackers find it easy to hack into these PCs using vulnerabilities of Adobe. Adobe has Acrobat version for PDF reader in MAC OS, which isn’t reported to be targeted by attackers much.

Enhanced security features in X version
Adobe Reader X has many security advancements compared to its earlier versions. The majors being the following:

  • The biggest security change in Reader X is the addition of Sandboxing or Adobe Reader Protected Mode – only for Windows. Sandboxing mitigates the risk of what an attacker can do even if they successfully exploit Reader. The risks covered include deployment of malware in the PC to changing the file system or registry of the PC.
  • An intensive code hardening program was implemented to reduce vulnerabilities or security flaws in Reader. This security development process included a combination of testing, code review, and programming standards.
  • Improved JavaScript blacklist framework, which allows you to disable only specific functions of JavaScript instead of completely disabling it.
  • Altered way of prompting security alerts or preference settings. Especially for alerts, a yellow alert bar with descriptive text is dropped down, in place of Yes/No dialog boxes that users instinctively click without reading. The user will have to click on the Options in the text and choose one of them.

Adobe Reader X still not safe
The enhanced security features discussed above do not make Adobe Reader invulnerable. Sandbox mode only acts as a protection layer, preventing the attacker from writing files or installing malware on potential victims’ computers, even if the vulnerabilities are exploited. Other security features explained above depend on the preferences of the user. However, the version 10 of Adobe Reader is the best in terms of security, compared to its previous versions. If you are still using the older version of Reader click here to update.

Malware creators are getting innovative and looking for new ways to infect the PCs with malware. “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.” Similarly, the more you are watchful and aware of the security vulnerabilities and ways to defend them, the more you will be safer and secure.

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