Tag: chromium

Firefox worries as criminals get hold of SSL certificates

Firefox has had to update its range of browsers to deal with a number of fraudulent SSL certificates which allow cybercriminals to dupe users into handing over personal information.

Just as Mozilla released its version 4.0 browser it has had to be updated along with versions 3.6 and 3.6 to counter the threat from illegally obtained SSL certifications by recognising and then blocking them automatically.

Essentially the fraudulent SSL codes mean that known sites are used to divert users to fake sites where they are potentially made to unknowingly download malware or hand over sensitive information.

Mozilla maintains that this is not a problem specific to its own browsers, with a similar update finding its way to Chromium, though it is not clear why the Firefox version has arrived five days later.

Though it states that current versions of Firefox are now “protected from this attack”, the company is “still evaluating the possibility of further response to this issue”.

However while the certificates have been revoked for the unnamed public websites that the Mozilla blog refers to, there is some debate as to whether the current certification authority system is actually able to meet threats from cyber criminals.

With five million downloads of the new 4.0 browser, Mozilla has urged users to continue to update security regularly to counter any threat.

Are social networking browsers a security risk?

A Chromium-based social networking web browswer called RockMelt has launched in beta, exciting many people around the world, but with the security and privacy of social networks being frequently called into question we wonder if this is the right direction to head in.

At first glance RockMelt looks incredibly good. It retains the sleek design of Google’s open source Chromium web browser, which is the code behind Chrome, but it adds a ton of new features that integrate social networking straight into the web browser. Feeds, friend tabs, and easy sharing and updating of your profile are just some of the things RockMelt has crammed in.

However, there’s nothing really new about this idea. Another web browser called Flock released a major update in May of 2009 that integrated social networking right into it with a live feed sidebar. It marketed itself as “the social web browser”, and the most recent version employs Chromium as well.

Yet it never really took off, and we wonder if a large reason behind this is simply that its focus is far too niche. The concept is good and helps distinguish these two browsers from the three main contenders – Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome – but do people really want or need constantly updating sidebars while they’re trying to watch a video or write an email?

What could be a bigger problem, however, is security. Both of these browsers are touting themselves as secure and are both built on Chromium’s code, which is fairly safe. But that’s not where the problem arises – it comes from the social networks themselves, which have come under heavy fire over the past several months for continued data leaks and poor privacy policies.

Facebook is one of the best examples. It has been widely criticised for its terrible approach to user privacy, hiding options for making profiles private or friends-only and leaking out personal information. In May it was revealed that users could spy on their friends’ supposedly “private” chats. More recently people discovered that many of the apps on Facebook leaked out private information.

Facebook is not the only culprit, however. Other major social networks like Twitter have been found to contain major loopholes that can be exploited by hackers to gain access to passwords and other private information. The OAuth authentication process for Twitter was heavily criticised, despite it being an update to an even less secure method.

Do we really need to stuff these websites, with all their flaws and gaping holes, into a web browser that we might use to access our bank accounts or make purchases online? Do we really need to have our friends and colleagues, not to mention the total strangers that end up adding us on Facebook, watching our every move with updates straight from our browser?

While social networking has brought many benefits, its popularity has caused it to become a primary focus of hackers and scammers, who often employ mouse-over exploits and clickjacking within seemingly innocuous updates to social networks as a way to lure users into lowering their defences. The last thing we need is to have this built straight into our browsers.

Chrome OS hardware arrives in autumn

Google claims the first piece of hardware running its open sauce Chrome OS will ship in autumn.

At least that is what Sundar Pichai, a product management VP working for the all-your-data-is-belong-to-us search behemoth, told the world+dog at Computex. According to Digitimes, industry deep throats are croaking Acer will be the company to keep an eye on.

Acer launched a dual-boot netbook last year which allowed users to switch between Windows and Android, Google’s other OS.

Once upon a time Microsoft forbade PC makers to build dual-boot machines, hanging a Damocles sword above their heads, but that’s a different story entirely, please ask Jean-Louis Gassee, who found beOS.

Google offers Chromium as an OS for companies who want to release a Linux-based netbook, without the Chrome brand. Vendors have to cooperate with Google to use the Chrome label and let the data kraken have its say in terms of product development and marketing. Google is currently focusing on small netbooks with screen sizes of 10 to 12 inches, Pichai added.

Chrome is basically centered on using a browser as the main programme, using internet-based applications to work and play, whilst data is stored somewhere in the cloud. Google claims its such a nice new approach as most people use their browser most of the time. It is also a nice approach for Google, which will be able to siphon off megatons of anonymised user data. However, Google will never ever link personal user data to anonymised statistics and so forth, as no one would ever trust the company again and it would go down the drain.

Google wants to print through the cloud

Google has given an insight into how it will handle printing with its Chrome OS, using access to the cloud instead of relying on traditional operating system drivers.

As the Chrome OS relies on web apps, ‘Google Cloud Print’ is a system of printing which would give them the same printing capabilities as your traditional native apps, which relied on drivers and a local operating system.

Google Cloud

This means that web, desktop and mobile apps on any device can print on any printer, as all major devices and operating systems have access to the cloud.

Apps will use Google Cloud Print to submit and manage print jobs to the right printer with the options that the user wants, and return the job status to the app.

In a blog post, Mike Jazayeri, Group Product Manager for Google, said that although people could access any document from any device, you still needed to install drivers om printers which often made printing impossible.

He said, “Developing and maintaining print subsystems for every combination of hardware and operating system – from desktops to netbooks to mobile devices – simply isn’t feasible.”

Although Google Cloud Print is still under development, it is making the documentation public as part of its open-source Chromium project.

Jazayeri said, “While we are still in the early days of this project, we want to be as transparent as possible about all aspects of our design and engage the community in identifying the right set of open standards to make cloud-based printing ubiquitous.”

This week HP also tried to simplify the printing process, but instead of using the cloud offered printers that could work on any operating system out of the box, without the need for CDs and drivers to download.

Scientists find interstellar dust

Boffins think they have found two particles of interstellar dust, according to the BBC.

The dust was found in material collected by the US space agency’s Stardust spacecraft and not down the back of the sofa as we first thought.

For ages boffins had wondered about the nature of such dust which flows through space and ends up as the building blocks that go into making stars and planets.

NASA sent up spacecraft was primarily sent to catch dust streaming from Comet Wild 2 and return it to Earth for analysis.

But scientists also wanted to catch particles of interstellar dust which apparently is different from the stuff that comets are made from.

The material was gathered by the Stardust probe in a seven-year, 4.8-billion-km interplanetary voyage.

Dr Andrew Westphal, University of California, Berkeley thinks he has managed to isolate two interstellar dust grains.

Well, actually the discovery was made by a member of the public, using the Stardust@Home internet application, which invited participants to search the aerogel collection medium for tiny particles of the dust.

Under the agreement made between the science team and participants in Stardust@Home, the finder Bruce Hudson was allowed to choose a name for the particle he called it Orion.

After preliminary analyses, the scientists found another grain upstream, which Bruce Hudson named Sirius.

The dust appears to be made up of magnesium, aluminium, iron, chromium, manganese, nickel, copper and gallium and some new stuff they have not worked out yet.