Really basic web defense

Yes, your browser is under attack and dark forces want to know which sites you visit and what you click.

One thing going on is user tracking via cookies – bits of identifying stuff left on your computer as you browse. There’s no keeping up with all the various schemes used by major sites like Google, Yahoo, and others, but suffice to say they and other third party providers to web sites are doing their best to follow your web activity and then “customize” your view of the web. Some of this works when you’re logged in to sites like Facebook, My Yahoo, etc., but some also works just by the basic actions of loading pages and images. Almost all of it is hidden from casual users. It may not bother you, and you may be content to allow marketers to guide you to products and services they hope you’ll like. On the other hand…

To resist this to some degree, in rough order of increasing effort and increasing inconvenience:

DO NOT CLICK ON WHAT YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND

The first, most vital rule. Delete all email or classify it as “spam” unless you are positive of its provenance. What’s the worst that could happen? You might delete a bill notification or a personal note. Usually those things have a way of working themselves out – clicking on a faux “Free $1,000,000 Watch If you Click the Hamster’s Cute Nose” inducement is guaranteed to lead only to tears.

DO NOT GO TO UNKNOWN SITES

Harsh, a restatement of the most vital rule, and not much fun, but isn’t a quick Google of a site’s domain name or vetting with a friend better than leaping into a boiling cauldron of corruption?

IE, NOT

  • Don’t use Internet Explorer. Just don’t. Sorry, if you like it. It’s worse on security and privacy. Yes, it is
  • If you insist, make sure Explorer is not saving your passwords and set the security level high – otherwise you’re insane

FIREFOX

  • Close your browser and restart it often, especially after visiting any encrypted or secure sites (sites like financial institutions, even shopping sites – anything with “https://” instead of “http://” in the URL.) This will flush (depending on Privacy Mode and cookies settings) cookies away and eliminate JavaScript “Klingons” that have accumulated, limpet-like, on your computer
  • On the Firefox browser, set to “Private Browsing”
  • Set your Preferences to “Allow cookies” but disable “Allow 3rd party cookies”
  • Turn off cookies altogether, or force cookie-by-cookie acceptance

You’ll experience failures and ugly pages on many sites if you do this. You’ll have to authorize MANY cookies if you choose to do so manually. You can always reenable to access a bank site or other cookie-requiring site, and you can also choose to accept cookies only from particular domains – but the proliferation of 3rd-party services used by sites means broken pages can still result.

ALL BROWSERS

  • Turn off Java support (only need this if a particular site does, be very wary)
  • Turn off JavaScript support (Painful – many pretty and useful sites use JavaScript extensively. Yet it has a lot of unpleasant new attack vectors. Notice it’s far down this list, as this one will annoy you and may require turning on for MOST places you like to visit)

SECURITY IS PROPORTIONAL TO INCONVENIENCE: THE HARD PART

  • Research additional software tools/add-ons that actually do block ads, monitor annoying cookies, and so on, which will work with YOUR particular computer and software
  • Learn how to use said software and actually use it
  • It would be great if I could offer specific suggestions that required no effort, but at the moment I can’t
  • If you don’t have time to learn a security tool and use it correctly, it will only drive you crazy and cause you more worry than the Bad Guys

Good luck!

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Higher Education (Look Around You)

The Ascension, or Six Hundred Days In Her Life

chicken-stir-fry

Tonight’s stir fry (chicken and veg, fairly bland thrown-together sauce of:

  • non-fiery “fiery sauce” +
  • non-spicy “spicy habanero sauce” +
  • soy sauce (the only reliable sauce in there!)

Yakisoba (lightly fried thin noodles) not shown.

choco-foster-kane

I found this chocolate bunny which apparently honors the character Charles Foster Kane. Admirable!

YOU WANT UKELELE, GI?

I saw these guys sometime in 1997 or so at the southeast corner of Shinjuku train station, in the tunnel on the way to Takashimaya department store. They laughed at me when I bought a CD but all was just fine. It does my heart good to see them still making music!

Common / people

Possibly funny enough to wound or kill.

Common / people (YouTube)

Scandinavian Headlines

Police get a grip on serial masturbator

Clearly I’ve been reading “The Local” – a website in English about Sweden. Enjoyable:

  • “manual labor”
  • “feeling his way around”
  • “holding his own”

There’re a lot of other interesting headlines about Sweden, too:

  • Lesbian compensated for prevented puppy purchase
  • Children banned from wearing multi-coloured clothes
  • Viking women had sexy style
  • Death notices get cute ‘n’ quirky in Sweden
  • Woman trapped in laundry room by irate neighbour

The austerity of height

“The austerity of height shamed back the vulgar baggage of our cares. In the place of consequence it set freedom, power to be alone, to slip the escort of our manufactured selves; a rest and forgetfulness of the chains of being.”

-T.E. Lawrence

Waterfall by Hokusai

The Hell Is “Qat” ?

Is Qat something like Khat or Quat? Isn’t that a drug ingested for a stimulant effect?

If no one knows from first hand knowledge, maybe we can look it up!

FunnyComputerPicture

Farting 2008: Qualitative, Global, Rising?

There is little doubt that continued research around issues of flatus is poised to bear unusually productive fruit in the newly-sprung year. From the Bilbao School’s creeping renaissance in statistical modeling to the sharp blasts of iconoclastic reappraisal of sheer number crunching from Russian sources, the internationalization of interest in the field is no longer at all subtle. Moreover, this broadening of input, far from being a deadly influence, has accompanied a distinct bloating in subscriber numbers of previously obscure mailing lists like Smelt Quarterly, Analytical Perspectives on Aromas, and the more mainstream yet well-credentialed WAFT. The variety and quality of ripe, fresh voices in the discipline may include some that are perceived as barking or droning, certainly. This review of completed (and momentarily held back) releases in the literature of “farting” attempts to show, regardless, that a cacophony of production is precisely the motivation needed to bring fresh air to a scholarly community often prone to excessive restraint.

Extreme Decision 2008 – Primaries

So what about the candidates?

Not an attempt to persuade, rather an unhelpful blathering of dropped from a helicopter on a snowboard-, restauranteur pioneer of Pripyat, Ukraine-style observations of their current standing. In other words, more of what you see on TV, only bloggy-style:

  • Obama: Speaks very well, in line with values of many, yet enough folks are still too prejudiced and others are secretly afraid he won’t stand up against a Republican monster.
  • Biden: Oh, please! This is where I put the expression “jacking your dick” because it belongs somewhere.
  • Edwards: Doesn’t inspire enough passion. He articulates many things people want done but no one believes he can get them done.
  • Richardson: Seems like he’d be a solid cabinet member once Clinton wins.
  • Kucinich: Another place, another time…
  • Clinton: Tremendous lead among mainstream and corporate interests. Not offensive enough to drive off everyone else who’s pissed and demands change.
  • Paul: Attacked viciously because he loudly proclaims the popular will on major issues. Can’t have that! Very good chance he’ll be a 3rd party spoiler and screw everything up for the Democrats.
  • Giuliani: Charisma and bald confidence will get you a lot of places (see Bush Jr.) but there’s plenty more mud headed his way. Not acceptable to the loud minorities of Republicans, too vulnerable on too much.
  • Romney: 3-way furball between these last. Slip-ups will dog Romney and prejudice will play a role here, probably wrongly. (There are a lot of bizarre Christians who are decent people in their private lives and who insist on screwing up the private lives of others, he doesn’t deserve singling out for those qualities)
  • Huckabee: The kind of unkind conservative Republicans love. McCain’s biggest competition from the values voters. Could make it.
  • McCain: Momentum will build when the media realizes all that hugging with Bush means “Old Freaky” has plenty of support where he needs it. The aroma of a “comeback” story will be intoxicating. A survivor, a veteran, and a dirk-carrying operator with the best chance.