Nanny Gate II: Web Browsers As Fraud Detectors

I’d like you to forgive me the formatting and spelling errors dotted over last week’s post. I wrote the post using Notepad and the lack of on-demand code formatting. As well as a spell checker resulted in the crap formatting. I won’t let it happen again. Now, on with the software reviews.

Opera 9.02 Beta include Phishin (anti-fraud) detectionThe new Opera 9.03 Beta Build 8629 introduces a Phishing detector that detect and alerts the user in real-time if a web site is genuine or fraudulent. I tested using “http://0xd2.0x695fd6/https:/signin.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll/SignIn.htm” extracted from Google’s list of known fraudulent sites. I find the level of alerts much better than those available when using IE7 with the Phishing detector enabled.

Opera 9.03 also corrects several bugs while upgrades other browser features. However there seem to be inevitable regressions. This build experiences high CPU use (thrashing) when accessing Google Maps. And fails to restart after applying an in-browser upgrade. I’m not sure if this isn’t a feature. Because since the beginning of the Opera 9 Beta process I have never gotten the browser to detect if a new build was available! A complete changelog is available. Opera 9.03 is available in separate versions for Windows (Classic & Windows MSI Installer), Mac and Linux/Unix.

PC-Cillin 2007 includes effective anti-spyware scannerOver the past few months I have been testing out PC-Cillin 2007 on a second computer (my primary one still runs the older PC-Cillin 2006). PC-Cillin 2007 combines an on-access file scanner with a firewall, phishing detector and anti-spyware. Overall I find it an extremely effective software suite. And even without my usual anti-spyware tools like Spyware Blaster and Spybot Search & Destroy, I was able to successfully detect and remove spyware and tracking cookies. The anti-spyware screen displays the trapped element and its location on your computer. But what I still dislike about the software is inability to block these elements before they are saved. Why did it assume I wanted such content on my computer?

Still PC-Cillin 2007’s spyware scanner offered proof that the now free FlashGet (formerly JetCar) download manager still includes several phone home components! I advise you to bear with slower downloads and plain get rid of this software. Opt instead for WinGet 1.8; the last free version is still available at Brothersoft.com.

Even better, why not try out the seemingly-amazing GigaGet. This free download manager can locate and link to multiple download locations for a single file. A 775 kB Windows XP update took just under 90 seconds to download! GigaGet developers’ claim to use NetGrid technology to enhance download speeds. I will definitely feature a more detailed review in a forthcoming post.

The PC-Cillin 2007 firewall has been considerably simplified over previous version. And offers WiFi intrusion protector along with the ability to manage other computers on your home network. The firewall separates application software from Windows protocols. And when set to Medium doesn’t list applications with their specific access permissions. But if you want to know what apps are accessing the Internet and when, set the Security Level to Maximum. The firewall now maps profiles to specific network interfaces; complete with LAN card MAC address. And its auto-profile switching feature actually works without a prompt. PC-Cillin 2007 also includes file-system level access permissions. Which can be an intrusive annoyance; especially when installing new software. But better safe than sorry. Eh? Overall, this is truly an excellent product.

WinPatrol command centerSay, do you love dogs? And even if you don’t on account of their smell, hair balls or the responsibility that comes of having a pooch around, you will certainly love WinPatrol’s Scotty icon. It truly personifies this system manager. Even the system tray icon info balloon says Scotty’s on patrol.Available in free and paid versions, the core WinPatrol utility features are available in the Free version. The paid Plus version adds a searchable online knowledgebase, ability to intelligently detect infiltrations and exam hidden Windows Registry startup keys all for an extra US$30.

The WinPatrol window affords direct access to startup programs, IE Helpers (BHOs), scheduled tasks, services, active tasks, cookies, file types and hidden files. You can also customize WinPatrol options. WinPatrol tracks programs installed. And prompts you if they attempt to modify Windows settings. Including adding a startup icon to the system tray. Or adding a BHO (browser helper object) to Internet Explorer. The software also helps block some applications like the Sun JRE’s annoying habit of checking for new versions at startup. It also blocks attempts by newly installed software to modify default file type mappings.

In conclusion PC-Cillin 2007 with WinPatrol installed is a very secure setup. Post last time’s format fiasco I’m now testing out two blog editors. More about them in a future post. We’ll meet again soon. Stay safe.

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