Posts Tagged ‘users’

Major Security for Major Websites Does Not Always Prevent Vulnerabilities

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Online security threats and system vulnerabilities will always be an issue on the Internet regardless of the amount of security we implement. As the security for major online companies gets smarter the hackers and computer viruses get more inventive as well. This balance is unlikely to disappear because there will always some kind of benefit for people who perform these destructive actions. Whether it is for notoriety, money, or information the effects of these actions require companies to be forward thinking and remain focused on the protection of their users.


Following the largely publicized PlayStation Network Hack a couple weeks ago, two other major websites experienced their own misfortune. For Google it was discovered that their images were replaced with malware and Facebook was also notified that their applications were unintentionally leaking information to third parties. Although these two incidents are completely different with one being pure mischief and the other being an oversight the two cases highlight severe vulnerabilities for major websites.

After weeks of user complaints Google identified that some of their Google Images search results were pointing users to webpages that forced misleading anti-virus scans and security alerts. The attackers apparently infiltrated high trending Google Image search results and planted their own PHP scripts to generate their own malicious content. Once their own PHP scripts were implemented the Google bots crawled and eventually displayed thumbnails for their bogus web pages. When clicked on, the image redirected users to a bad page. Google is currently working hard to remove all of the bad links. For more specific details on how and what was affected visit More on Google Image Poisoning.

Shortly after Google realized their security flaw, Facebook was notified by Symantec regarding their security issue. On Tuesday May 10, 2011 Symantec published that Facebook applications have been unintentionally leaking user information to third parties. Although it is impossible to pinpoint the exact number of affected users it is estimated that the information of hundreds of thousands of users could have been exposed. However Symantec and Facebook state that it is also possible that most of the third parties didn’t even realize the leaks.

The leaks occurred through access tokens which are basically authorization codes that are assigned once a user accepts or grants permission to a Facebook application. Once Facebook was notified of the leaks they implemented the necessary changes which are described in the Facebook Developers Blog. Concerned users can take their own actions to nullify any current access tokens by changing their account password. As mentioned although these leaks were accidental this incident provides a perfect example for the vulnerabilities that websites like Facebook still have even with good security.

Sometimes the bigger the company, the bigger the target. Security should always be a crucial aspect and top priority for any business.  It is not only up to the major websites to try to stay head of the relentless security threats and system vulnerabilities, the individual users should do their part as well by being educated about online risks and by taking the appropriate precautions to remain safe.

Thanks for Reading and Have a Great Day!


Providing Tech Support for Businesses in Maryland

Competing For Top Browser: The New Features in Firefox 4

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Last week we discussed the new features of Internet Explorer 9 and the enhancements Microsoft has made to the preexisting structure of the browser. Since the release of IE9 and Firefox 4 were only one week apart from each other, it was bound to initiate an increase in competition. Moments after the new version of Firefox was released the number of downloads quickly began to grow much to the chagrin of Microsoft. It became hard to miss all of the blogs and headlines that are emphasizing how the number of Firefox downloads outnumbered those of Internet Explorer 9.

firefox 4

Firefox 4 from April 2011

Although competition may sometimes seem like a tough aspect of business it can undoubtedly provide certain benefits. For example healthy competition between similar organizations keeps companies innovative, growing, updating their products, and always searching for the next big concept. Having this type of browser competition ensures that the customer will remain the primary focus and will always have the best options made available to them. With that being said choosing a browser shouldn’t be about how many numbers of downloads a browser has it should be about the features it offers and the preference of a user, which seems to be getting overlooked in order to emphasize competition.

Each browser has a particular following so it is not surprising that the users running Internet Explorer will continue to use IE9 and those running Firefox will upgrade to Firefox 4. Each of the browsers has made similar adjustments but at the same time they offer a few stand out and key differences. Comparable to the changes made with IE9 the adjustments made for Firefox 4 can be broken down into categories which include design and layout, security and performance, usability and organization, and personalization.

Design and Layout:

Again with this browser we see an interface that is less cluttered and less complicated. Firefox was able to create more space to view websites by consolidating everything into one main menu, which is now called the “Firefox Menu”. In addition they have also relocated the position of the tabs and are now located above the URL and search bar. This time around the bookmark, home, back, reload, and stop buttons have all been simplified, again to produce a cleaner user interface. Similar to Internet Explorer 9 the browser places more of an emphasis on the web page as opposed to the actual browser.

Usability and Organization:

Unlike Internet Explorer which has consolidated the address bar and search box into one location the Firefox browser has decided to keep both search boxes separated. The address bar which has been given the name “The Awesome Bar” learns and adapts as you use it, meaning if you decide to type only keyword in this space it will provide website suggestions based on both your previous search results and bookmarked locations. In order to receive search results users still need to either navigate to a search engine or do so via the quick search result box as opposed to in IE9 where users can simply search the term in one convenient and space saving search bar.

Tabs work similar to in the previous versions of Firefox but they are in the different location as previously mentioned and can be sorted into small groups using Panorama. Panorama takes small snapshots of your open pages and allows you to drag and drop them into a group. Firefox also lets users create App tabs similar to how IE9 lets users pin websites to the Windows 7 task bar. App tabs are for sites that a user wants to make a permanent fixture and remain in the actual browser as opposed to the Windows 7 task bar. These smaller tabs have a designated position located before the regular tabs along the top of the search bars. Firefox’s Application tab options seems more viable because although IE9’s pinning option can be more convenient it can also clutter a user’s desktop task bar and is only available to people who are using the Windows 7 operating system.

 Security and Performance:

Firefox 4 allows its users to sync their mobile device browser with their desktop browser to preserve the continuity of their web browsing experience. The process of syncing will transfers any tabs, history, bookmarks, and passwords across any mobile platform. Similar to previous versions, Firefox 4 utilizes a pop-up blocker, password manager, download manager, spell checker, form assistant, and a session restore.

It is evident that one of the main priorities for the new version of Firefox was enhancing security. The following are some of the security features that Firefox 4 offers:

  • Instant web session ID – Websites are highlighted as being secure or vulnerable
  • Content security policy – Prevents cross site scripting
  • Anti-Phishing – Firefox updates its records of counterfeit sites 48 times a day
  • Customizable security
  • Parental controls
  • Secure updates
  • Anti-malware
  • Private browsing
  • Antivirus integration
  • Outdated plug-in detection
  • Secure connections
  • Automatic updates
  • Clearing history
  • Forget the site
  • Custom no site tracking


Firefox has a tremendous collection of add-ons which is part of the reason why so many users are drawn to it. Their library now contains over 2,398,145,252 add-ons which make customizing a user experience quick and simple. Users can also personalize their browser by applying personas or skins to the browser window and can also add, re-arrange or eliminate the buttons located on Firefox.


Firefox 4 adds to the already great reputation of the Firefox name and certainly lives up to the standards of its users. Like anything new it may take some time for users to get comfortable with the display and features but because the browser offers a much better user experience it is well worth the adjustment period. Although the latest versions of IE and Firefox browsers offer a few varying differences both browsers seem to have implemented changes based on similar criteria, making recommending one over the other difficult. Both browsers concentrated on browser simplification, user interaction, tab management, security, and search capability. Whether you are partial to Internet Explorer or Firefox it is clear that they have both delivered new versions that provide a higher performance, better usability, enhanced security, and an overall improved user experience.

These are just a few of the features that Firefox 4 has to offer, to download the latest versions or learn more about Mozilla Firefox 4 or Internet Explorer 9 visit the links below!

Download Firefox 4

Firefox 4 Features

Download Microsoft IE 9

Internet Explorer 9 Features

Have a Great Day!


Providing Tech Support for Businesses in Maryland


New Software Update Bug Causes Havoc for Gmail Users

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Last week some Gmail users were faced with an unwelcome surprise.   Many Gmail account holders found that their emails were either deleted or temporarily corrupted.   Although most users were unscathed by the detrimental “glitch”, those that were not so lucky temporarily lost the majority of their email and access to any crucial information contained within their account.

software bug

Since the problem began, most of the clients who were exposed to this issue have regained access to their email account and had their lost emails restored. In a Blog Posting from Ben Treynor, VP Engineering and Site Reliability Czar, he states that Gmail apologizes for the problems and goes on to talk about how the emails were never really lost. The bug had an impact on multiple data centers but because Gmail spreads their data across a vast number of data storage facilities as well as Tape, the emails were never truly deleted.

Tape is a form of offline backup that allowed Gmail to preserve the integrity of data and transfer it back to the data center after resolving the issue at hand.   Gmail always keeps redundant copies of the data for easy retrieval in the event that something like this occurs. Gmail originally stated that it was an easy thing to fix but Ben later urged their customers to bear with them because it had taken longer than thought to resolve the issue due to the data transfer process.   Following his Monday blog posting Ben Treynor provided an update stating that the flow of data had resumed and all the remaining affected users should now have access to their information.

The root of the problem surfaced when implementing a storage software update. Initially, it was estimated that .08 percent of users were affected but it was later changed to only .02 percent.   Even though .02 percent may not be a colossal figure, with nearly 200 million people using Gmail it is still safe to say that a good number of people were left to shoulder the consequences.

If there is one thing that you should take away from this article it is the importance of backing up your data!   Data backup is not only important for companies like Google who are protecting client data but for users on a more personal level as well.   This issue serves as a perfect example of showing how important your data could potentially be and when you’re  unable to access needed information you can be at a major loss. My advice would be to store important emails and information offline just in case you find yourself in a situation similar to the Gmail fiasco.

For more news on all things Google visit Google Headlines and the Google Blog!

Have a Great Day!


Providing Tech Support for Businesses in Maryland

Remote Administration – Reaching Out of Your Computer

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
computer fitness

As seen at June 2010

Hey, everyone. It’s Josh from Computer Fitness again. We are a Tech Support Company for Small and Medium businesses located in Reisterstown, MD.

As we’ve talked about on one of our other blogs, remote use of a computer is a growing trend in today’s IT world. The article, located here, talks about some of the reasons why using RDC is a great idea. Here at Computer Fitness, we’re going to take a look at how to get this up and running on your home machine.

I’m going to assume that you’re using Windows for this part. Mac OS comes next. First, open up your Start menu. Next, you want to right click on My Computer. Next, click Manage. This will bring up a new screen with a lot of details about your computer. If you are using Windows XP, which a lot you probably are, you’ll see a tab labeled Remote.

On the Remote tab, there are two check boxes. The one you want to check here is under Remote Desktop and labeled “Allow Users to Connect Remotely to this Computer”. This computer can now be accessed remotely. If you want to add users that are allowed to use this privilege, which I recommend, just click the box labeled Select Remote Users. That will keep a tight control on the people using it.

Now, for Mac Users. This is pretty easy. Open up your System Preferences.  Now, click on Sharing. Once that loads, you will see a number of options for sharing. Things like File Sharing will likely already enabled. You want to check the box labeled “Remote Management”. Once you do, you will be presented with a list of options for users taking control of the system. This provides granular control over users. This way, even if someone gets into your system, you still have some control if you aren’t there. Check the appropriate boxes and hit okay. As with Windows, you can select certain users to give access.

Computer Fitness
Onsite and Remote Tech Support