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Nov 11, 2010 at 08:12am
Age: 8 yrs
Category: Web Technology
By: Emilio Serrano

Popular Technologies and Your Security


Key to your security

Key to your security

As an owner of a computer repair and network consulting business in Walla Walla, I am keep my ear to the ground for new technologies.  Let me take a few moments to share some of the tools and resources currently available and some of the things to keep your eye out for.

The internet gives us a world of entertainment that is accessible whenever we want it.  Through Hulu, Youtube and Netflix, we are able to watch a vast number of movies and tv shows in high definition. For the music listener there is Napster, Zune and iTunes.

Who doesn't love playing games on Facebook or? The biggest names in enabling online entertainment are Flash from Adobe, Java from Oracle and Microsoft's Silverlight. Flash is by far the most popular choice of developers for programming video over the internet.

The biggest example of Flash in use is Hulu and YouTube.  There are also a vast number of websites that use Flash to enable video or applications (such as internet speed tests and interactive menus) on their pages.  Java is used for programming of applications on web pages and scripting, the inner workings of a web page.  Java and Flash are incredible programs that allow for a great user experience but there are potential security issues that the end user needs to be aware of.

Over time, security vulnerabilities are found in both Flash and Java that can allow a a web page to run malicious code on a computer.  This malware can do some serious damage to a computer as well as compromise user names and passwords by installing a key logger or rootkit.  They can also install scareware that attempts to extort money from the user by imitating an anti-virus and demanding you "buy" their product to clean the infection.  That is why it is important to ensure that your computer has the latest versions of Flash and Java installed.

When the security vulnerabilities are found, Adobe and Oracle release patches periodically to ensure that the programs are less susceptible to any malicious use.  The most current Flash as of this writing (11/11/2010) is version 10.1.102.64.  The most current version of Java is version 6 update 22.  Once these updates are installed, go into your Control Panel and ensure that older version are uninstalled.  Outdated versions present on a system continue to be a security risk.  Due to how the patches come out after an exploit is found, it is imperative that you are running an anti-virus program set up to update itself automatically.  Though no anti-virus will catch 100% of malicious code, any reputable software should stop 90+% of them.  Now with all the talk about Java and Flash, what about Silverlight (current version 4) from MS?  So far there hasnt been any real major holes found in Silverlight itself but this program uses Windows .NET framework for its backbone so you want to make sure that your .NET modules are kept up to date.

The easiest way to ensure that your core Windows components are up to date is to make sure that Windows Update is set up correctly. One option is to have Windows Update download and install the updates automatically at a certain time.  An alternative method is to have Windows Update automatically download the updates and notify you of when they are ready to be installed.  This gives the user control of when to install the update.  I prefer the alternate method because sometimes the updates require a system reboot and this ensures that I am able to finish my work and reboot when ready and not get nagged by Windows every so often to reboot while working on something.


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