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Archive for December, 2009

Believe it or not

Posted by brainfoldb4u on December 25, 2009

Dooms Day

Concept of dooms day “December 21 2012″certainly a debatable heading and there are many controversies either to believe it or not. There are predictions from oracles and other experts that December 21 of 2012 will be a certain different day to us i did little bit research on it and thought this below information is worth sharing. The reason could be a human effect or natural disaster. From Chinese theories to scientific predictions the most likely date is the year 2012.

SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS from around the world are predicting that few years from now, all life on Earth could well come to an end. Some are arguing that will be humans that would set it off. Others believe that a natural phenomenon will be the cause. And the religious folks are saying it will be God himself who would press the stop button. The following are some likely arguments about why the world would end by the year 2012..

Evidences:

The Atom Masher: European scientists have been constructing the worlds largest particle accelerator. Phenomenally it is a tunnel of 27km designed to smash atoms together to find out the reason behind the universe tick. But this monster gadget has caused  notable concern with experts suggesting that it’s probably a bad idea to turn it on and they are arguing that it will propel the black holes and cause a deadly result.

Largest atom smasher
Mayan’s Mystery calendar: With detailed astronomical records and precise track recorded calculations of  cycles of planets and stars as they travel around in their orbits Mayan believers are saying that we are now in the 4th cycle as per Maya. cycle said to have started in 3114BC and lasts for 5126 years which ends in 2012.  After the end of fourth cycle it is believed to have a beginning of fifth cycle and mayan’s said to consider it as the ancient wisdom or the new era for mankind. Precisely an article states as:

apocalyptic test: the classic maya  millennium,  on December 23, 2012 (based on our Western Gregorian calendar). That’s when the Maya calendar will turn over to all zeros — 13.0.0.0.0 by the long count. (By the way, the Maya use of the zero by at least A.D. 200 is one of their key claims to fame, since the zero was not introduced to the West until the insights of Aryabhata, a fifth-century Indian mathematician, reached Europe.) The Maya millennium comes 5,126 years after the creation, which, by their reckoning, occurred precisely on August 11, 3114 B.C. But we probably shouldn’t worry too much about this, since Pascal, the most famous ruler of Palenque, confidently predicted that his accession would be commemorated on October 15 in A.D. 4772 (Gregorian time).

mayan-calendar
Sun Strom’s: Solar experts from around the world who check the sun have made a stunning discovery that our sun is in a bit of strife. They claim that the energy output of the sun is, cyclic, and it’s should have been placed in the middle of a period of relative stability.  But the fact is our earth is under the bombardment of recent solar storms and receiving great amount of energy as radiation. And this powerful energy is destroying human made satellites. and experts predicts this bombardment will get worsen and will reach its zenith by 2012 December.
The physicists: Physicists at Berkley University have crunched the numbers. They have determined that the earth is well overdue for a major catastrophic event. Even worse, they are claiming that their calculations prove that we are all going to die, very soon. They are also saying that their prediction comes with a certainty of 99 per cent; and 2012 just happens to be the best guess about when it occurs.
Earths magnetic: Earth is surrounded by a magnetic field that shields us from most of the sun’s radiation. What you might not know is that the magnetic poles we call North and South have a nasty habit of swapping places every 750,000 years or so — and now we are about 30,000 years overdue. Scientists have noted that the poles are drifting apart roughly 20-30 km each year, faster than ever before, which points to a pole-shift being right around the corner. While the pole shift is under way, the magnetic field is disrupted and will eventually disappear, sometimes for up to 100 years. The result is enough UV outdoors to crisp your skin in seconds, killing everything it touches.

Super Volcano : Yellow stone national park in united states famous for its thermal springs states the reason as earth is sitting on top of the worlds biggest volcano and geological experts are says that yellow stone volcano has pattern of erupting every 65000 years and we are over due by many years for an explosion that will fill the earth mostly by ash and smoke. This will also block the sun and plug the earth into a frozen winter that considered to last for 15 thousand years. Pressure under the volcano is building its temperature   in a steady phase and it may erupt as big bang on December  2012.

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Open Source

Posted by brainfoldb4u on December 25, 2009

Open source

Open source is a development method and the creative practice of appropriation and free sharing of information/invention.  This method enhances the power of distributed or autonomous behavior.  This way improves the transparency and promises better quality, flexibility, reliability, and availability. Good part is our standards body are maintaining this open source concepts for good of the community. This way makes any one can be a developer, reviewer or even a hacker (both in better and bitter way).

There are numerous open source projects like source-forge, open office, Linux, Ubuntu, ruby and many others available to us and wonder how many of us know about their existence and value they bring in comparison to their costly counterparts.  It became my interest to explore open source ad make reader aware of it.  Thus i am going to use this space in my page to talk about the source projects, their benefits and unique features they bring along …

Open source web

In general Open source software is whose source code is freely published and made available to any one and they can choose to edit, discover something new or even redistribute it without paying royalties.  Though said, it is not an easy task , it requires dedication ,involvement and community cooperation.  Few of those open source products are:

  • Linux:  Open source operating system based on Unix
  • Apache:  HTTP web server
  • MySQL: Most popular open source database.
  • Tomcat: provides pure java HTTP web server environment for Java code to run.
  • Eclipse: Open source software framework for rich client applications.
  • Mozilla Firefox: Worthy IE competent with rich plugins and customizable browser.
  • Ruby on Rail: Full stacked, web application framework optimized for building and publishing application for free.
  • Open Office.org:  Very useful MS office counterpart with built-in word, spreadsheet, power point and many..
  • MediaWiki: Knowledge base and the software that runs Wikipedia
  • Drupal/Joomla: Open source content management systems
  • Coffee Cup: Very useful HTML/CSS editor and website content developer.
  • PHP/Perl/Java: Handy scripting or programming languages that available for anyone to learn and master.
  • GIMP: Logo, website design and theme creator

Note: Majority of discussion will be around computing and internet technology oriented products..

Funny open source conversation
funny open source conversation

Posted in Linux, Open Source, Ubuntu | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Browser Security 1

Posted by brainfoldb4u on December 25, 2009

Web browsers:

Web browsers are software applications operate between your computer and web server. Computer browser contacts web server and requests information or resources, web server then locates the web page and send the information to the web browsers located in our computer. There are various sorts of information like applications, programs, animations and similar materials created with programming languages (Java, Active X) scripting languages (php, Perl, Java scripting) and AJAX a browser has to interpret and display in our computer a browser interpret . The most commonly used web browsers are Internet Explorer (70%, Firefox (20%), Chrome (5%), Opera(5%), Safari (5%), Konqueror (1%). So the theory is, more popular a web browser is, more successful it got attacked in the past.  I am planning to write about Microsoft IE browser security as a separate column as it got lots to talk about. So you may not find IE browser content in this page.

Web browser security became one the hot topic in information security industry not choosing the right browser and not updating it may lead you to variety of problems like spy-ware being installed, intruder taking control of your computer and many. The software attacks that take control of browser vulnerabilities are increasing much and hence it is significant for users to choose browsers that well address our needs.   Unauthorized disclosure of content stored in the computer running the web browser is a major threat needed to be addressed. For example, Apple fixed a flaw on their 2009-001 security updates which allowed access to files on local hard drive due to execution of arbitrary javascript in the local computer. Trend micro 2008 threat information indicates that more than half of thee most common infections were due to direct downloading from  the internet. Attackers can do this in low-cost way with focus will be to take control of your computer, steal your information, destroy your files and also can be used to attack other computer by using yours as a proxy. Some of the common factors that leads to browser exploit are as follows

  • User tend to click on links without thinking about the risk and consequences it could bring
  • Not running the updates.
  • Web browsers are configured for increased functionality without worrying about security
  • clicking the links that takes you to malicious site
  • Configuring computer systems with additional softwares without knowing its functionality and that increases the number of vulnerability that may be attacked.
  • Third party software that has no mechanism to receive software updates
  • Some websites requires additional features or install more software putting our computer at risk.
  • And as a result exploiting vulnerabilities in web browser has become a famous way to attackers to compromise security.  I thought of putting together an article to emphasize the balance between usability and security of web browser.

    Some software features that provide functionality to a web browser, such as ActiveX, Java, Scripting (JavaScript, VBScript, etc), may also introduce vulnerabilities to the computer system. These may stem from poor implementation, poor design, or an insecure configuration. For these reasons, you should understand which browsers support which features and the risks they could introduce. Some web browsers permit you to fully disable the use of these technologies, while others may permit you to enable features on a per-site basis. You may have multiple web browsers installed in your system. software applications on your computer, such as email clients or document viewers, may use a different browser than the one you normally use to access the web. Also, certain file types may be configured to open with a different web browser. Using one web browser for manually interacting with web sites does not mean other applications will automatically use the same browser. For this reason, it is important to securely configure each web browser that may be installed on your computer. One advantage to having multiple web browsers is that one browser can be used for only sensitive activities such as online banking, and the other can be used for general purpose web browsing.  This can minimize the chances that a vulnerability in a web browser, web site, or related software can be used to compromise sensitive information

    Google Chrome:

    • Chrome Mailer: Chrome Mailer is an add-on for Google Chrome which automatically opens and composes a Gmail message whenever you click on a mailto: link. Windows’ default mail client is bypassed in favor of Google’s Web-based offering, making this a very useful addition for those who favor Gmail when working within their Chrome browser. Toggling this behavior on and off is as simple as clicking a button within Chrome Mailer’s interface. Support for Google Apps users with domains other than gmail.com” is also included.”
    • Incognito Surfing: Lets you surf the web with relative anonymity, means details of your web surfing are not retained. This can be useful when browsing on public systems like library and school PC’s. With Incognito the sites you open and files you download are not logged in the browser history and all new cookies are removed when the session closes.
    • Sand Box type: While other browsers run one instance of the browser engine with multiple associated processes google chrome run in a sandbox like functionality. Which means even if one  or more browser windows or tab crashes, it will not crash the web browser engine and will not take down other tab/process running. Malware or issues in one tab can not affect other open browser instances, and the browser is unable to write to or change the operating system in any way- protecting your PC from attack.
    • Safe Browsing: This feature mainly relies on certificates to verify the authenticity of the server that connected to. Google Chrome compares the information provided in the certificate with the real server being connected to and alerts you if the information doesn’t jive. If Chrome detects that the address specified in the certificate and the actual server you connect to are not the same, it issues this warning “‘This is probably not the site you are looking for!” .
    While there have been a couple security flaws and vulnerabilities identified, no web browser is perfect and in Google’s defense Chrome is still in Beta testing.Chrome does have a variety of innovative features and a unique interface that many users have quickly come to prefer over Internet Explorer and Firefox. Many users also report that it is faster at loading pages than other web browsers. The more security controls should prove valuable in helping you surf the Web safely. Google Chrome is definitely worth taking a look at.
    Overall : Google Chrome is best suited for ever day causal browsing where usability comes first. If you want a browser to open fast, look simple and help you browse fast i guess Google chrome can be your best option. In Chrome, Google utilises tabbed browsing and in its version the tabs have individual processes with sandbox capabilities which restrict privileges for third-party apps,Additionally, Chrome uses a blacklist that alerts users of ‘bad’ sites and has an ‘incognito’ mode for private browsing. Fully customizable and supports huge amount of languages .  It has more than 70 language including Tamil to choose from. More over i love it because it can be translate into Tamil!!

    Mozilla Firefox:


    Mozilla Firefox supports many features of the same features as Internet Explorer, with the exception of ActiveX and the Security Zone model. Mozilla Firefox does have the underlying support for configurable security policies (CAPS), which is similar to Internet Explorer’s Security Zone model, however there is no graphical user interface for setting these options.

    • Firefox protection: Firefox protects your computer by not loading Active X controls. It also has huge variety of features specially designed for security to protect your privacy and personal information. Firefox are configured to cut pop-up ads from web browsing which is a major inconvenience with windows. Firefox seems to be more secure by default and, being open source, any issues that might arise should be addressed and patched more quickly.
    • Anti-Virus Software: Firefox integrates elegantly with your anti-virus software. When you download a file, your computer’s anti-virus program automatically checks it to protect you against viruses and other malware, which could otherwise attack your computer.
    • Anti-Malware: Firefox protects you from viruses, worms, Trojan horses and spy ware. If you accidentally access an attack site, it will warn you away from the site and tell you why it isn’t safe to use. Firefox checks every part of a Web page before loading it to make sure nothing harmful is sneaking in the back door.
    • Anti-Phishing: Shop and do business safely on the Internet. Firefox gets a fresh update of web forgery sites 48 times in a day, so if you try to visit a fraudulent site thats pretending to be a site you trust (like your bank), a browser message—big as life—will stop you.
    • Down-loadable Fonts: View a wider variety of fonts on Web sites while you surf. Site designers and developers can create custom fonts that will be displayed and rendered properly even if you don’t have the font installed on your computer
    • Developer Tools: If you’re a Web developer, Firefox’s developer tools will make your life easier. The Mozilla Add-ons site offers many tools to streamline the development process, including Firebug to edit, debug, and watch CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any Web page, Tamper Data to view and change HTTP/HTTPS headers and POST parameters, and the DOM Inspector to check any HTML or CSS element with a simple right-click.
    • Organic software:  Firefox, is created by an international movement of thousands, only a small percentage of whom are real employees. They are motivated by promoting openness, innovation and opportunity on the web and not business concerns like profits or the price of our stock .
    • Outdated Plugin Detection: Some web pages needed to install small applications called plugins to watch videos, play games or view documents. These plug-ins are written by other companies, and it can be hard to make sure they’re always up to date. Since outdated plugins are a security risk, Firefox will let you know when you have a plug-in that’s vulnerable to attack and direct you to the right site to get the updated version.
    • Private browsing: As Google chrome, Firefox supports under hood browsing , with this feature enabled you won’t leave a single browsing fingerprint behind for others to discover.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrgf49fUWc8  

    Overall: I would say Firefox is best suited for heavy users and users who carry on sensitive tasks very often and who gives security top priority than usability. Fully customizable and supports huge amount languages .  It has more than 70 language including tamil to choose from.

    Opera Browser:

    pera is my third favorite browser with faster and safe web browsing experience. Opera takes less space to install and makes our browsing experience more efficient. It has many unique features like Opera unite (share content in quick and easy way), Opera Turbo (speed booster), Visual tabs, customizable speed dials, mouse gestures, Trash can (reopening closed tabs ). Many of these features can be seen in Firefox or chrome but opera has these features with unique identity.  As far as security is concern opera provides features like

    • Content blocking: Block images, pop-ups, and plug-ins you do not want to see. Right-click and choose “Block content” to disable annoying elements selectively. To make Web pages load more quickly, or to avoid offensive content, temporarily turn off images by pressing the image button. In Opera, smart pop-up blocking is turned on by default.
    • Auto Update: Opera makes it easier than ever to stay up-to-date with the latest version. With auto-update you can choose to have completely automatic updates or to be notified when an update is ready for you install. As always with Opera, it is your choice
    • Delete private data: Opera can be configured to clear the history and cache when exiting, to protect your privacy. Any kind of private data can easily be erased
    • Security Bar: Opera displays security information inside the address bar. By clicking on the yellow security bar, you get access to more information about the validity of the certificate.
    • Encryption: Opera supports Secure Socket Layer (SSL) version 3, and TLS. Opera offers automatic 256-bit encryption, the highest available security of any Web browser.
    • Fraud protection: Fraud Protection is enabled by default, automatically detecting and warning you about fraudulent Web sites. Fraud Protection is powered with phishing information from Netcraft and PhishTank and malware protection from TRUSTe. In addition, Opera supports Extended Validation certificates (EV). This provides added assurance and trust for secure Web sites. Read more about Opera Security.

    Apple Safari:

    Safari is another content rich web browser from apple.  After iphone release safari gained its popularity more than ever before due to the fact it comes inbuilt with iphone . iphone sales were 245% by 2009 and think about the number of users who uses safari.  It is designed to emphasize browsing more than the browser. Its browser frame is a single pixel wise and scroll bar are noted only when needed. IT comes with many features like , you can hide almost the entire interface, removing almost every distraction from the browser window. Safari gives an enjoyable browsing experience regardless of platform.  The first browser to deliver the “real” Internet to a mobile device, Safari renders pages on iPhone and iPod touch just as you see them on your computer. But this is more than just a scaled down mobile-version of the original. It takes advantage of the technologies built into these multi-touch devices. The page shifts and reformats to fill the window when you turn it on its side. You zoom in just by pinching and extending your fingers. Of course, no matter how you access it, Safari is always blazing fast and easy-to-use.

    • ARIA: Safari supports Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA). The ARIA standard helps web developers make dynamic web content more accessible for people with disabilities. With ARIA, sites taking advantage of advanced technologies like AJAX and JavaScript can now easily interoperate with assistive technologies.
    • Next gen standards support: Safari continues to lead the way, implementing the latest innovative web standards and enabling next-generation Internet experiences. With support for HTML 5 media tags, CSS animation, and CSS effects, web designers can create rich, interactive web applications using natively supported web standards. A standards-compliant browser, Safari renders current and future web applications as they were meant to be seen.
    • Acid 3 compliance: Apple claims that safari is the only browser to be acid 3 compliant Acid 3 tests a browser’s ability to fully make pages using the web standards used to build dynamic, next-generation websites, including CSS, JavaScript, XML, and SVG.
    • Database: Safari is the only browser that includes tools for managing the offline databases that will be part of the next generation of websites. The Databases pane in Safari 4 allows you to view tables and databases and even execute SQL queries.
    • powerful mac like tools for windows: Apple has brought its ability in Mac OS X and iPhone development tools to the web. Safari 4 includes a powerful set of tools that make it easy to debug, tweak, and optimize a website for peak performance and compatibility. To access them, turn on the Develop menu in Safari preferences

    Internet Explorer:

    Internet explorer 8 has got some security mechanisms that update it for the current threat environment. They have Smart-Screen Filter to help you avoid socially engineered malware phishing Web Sites and online fraud  when you browse.

    • Smart Screen Filter:  Checks Web sites against a dynamically updated list of reported phishing and sites, Checks software downloads against a dynamically updated list of reported malicious software sites, Helps prevent you from visiting phishing Web sites and other Web sites that contain malware that can lead to identity theft.
    • XSS Filter: Helps to prevent inclusion of target ed site by a frame. The Cross-Site Scripting Filter event is logged when Internet Explorer 8 detects and mitigates a cross-site scripting (XSS) attack. Cross-site scripting attacks occur when one Web site, generally malicious, injects (adds) JavaScript to otherwise legitimate requests to another Web site. The original request is generally innocent, such as a link to another page or a Common Gateway Interface (CGI) script providing a common service (such as a guestbook). The injected script generally attempts to access privileged information or services that the second Web site does not intend to allow. The response or the request generally reflects results back to the malicious Web site. The XSS Filter, a feature new to Internet Explorer 8, detects JavaScript in URL and HTTP POST requests. If JavaScript is detected, the XSS Filter searches evidence of reflection, information that would be returned to the attacking Web site if the attacking request were submitted unchanged. If reflection is detected, the XSS Filter sanitizes the original request so that the additional JavaScript cannot be executed. The XSS Filter then logs that action as a Cross-Site Script Filter event.
    • Data Execution protection: Data Execution Prevention/No Execute (DEP/NX) option in Internet Explorer 8 prevents code from running in non-executable memory. When a violation occurs, the browser stops responding instead of running malicious code. When Internet Explorer 8 has recovered from a crash caused by DEP/NX, this event is logged. Typically, DEP/NX failures occur due to attempts to exploit the browser or its add-ons. But it is possible that a browser add-on is not compatible with DEP/NX, and failures occur even without malicious content.
    • In-private browsing: As like Firefox, IE also comes with in-private browsing enabling reduced storage of browsing history information.

    Conclusion:

    Currently the threat to web browsers is severe. Flaws in the browsers and plugin’s are numerous and high impacting. In my opinion IE 8 got some security mechanism to face vulnerability but all these features make the a heavy weight browser and hence it impacts the browsing experience.  For mac and iPhone apple’s safari is a competent browser. Other than its frequent crash Opera is well customizable browser with rich content experience. Mozilla has some enterprise level lock-down capability and its security posture is substantially enhanced by the No-script add on. In my view light weight browser Google Chrome inches ahead with tabbed browsing and in its version the tabs have individual processes with sandbox capabilities which restrict privileges for third-party apps,Additionally, Chrome uses a blacklist that alerts users of ‘bad’ sites and has an ‘incognito’ mode for private browsing. smooth, fast and crash free browsing experience.

    Posted in Browser Security, Information Security | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Home

    Posted by brainfoldb4u on December 22, 2009

    Hi, Welcome and thank you for your time with Brainfold’s Web page. …

    I am going to use this blog to share information on current happening with internet world along with its new technologies, reviewing it features and other useful bunch of information on anti hacking and proactive development. You may find articles or blogs ranging from general security reviews, product reviews, cool technologies, Security assessment techniques and tools and so on. Open source is always my favorite and thought if having a separate column to discuss about its uniqueness. I am trying to emphasize more on open tools in the internet and discussing more about it features. Also i will use this blog personal column to express my ideas and discussion that could feed the wider community with topics for further discussion or debate.

    Its a never-ending learning process each and every day we learn something new while sharing that those we have learnt or experimented brings the real joy and i am sure its the same for every one. I call upon my like-minded friends from similar industry and working knowledge to contribute their input which eventually is the main motive behind this site “BrainFold”. To say little bit more about the name i have chosen for this web page “brainfold”, it is basically derived from a concept/myth that we humans use only 10 percent of our brain or at least we understand its functionalities only by 10%. A study by Melbourne scientists has provided the first direct evidence that differences in the way the surface of the human brain is folded could be an indication of how smart a person is. Some how that article grabbed my interest and thus the name brainfold came into my mind. Kindly drop any time to see what i have been up to, you will never know you may find it interesting…

    Prem

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