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  • The Chrome vs Edgemium (Chredge?) wars heat up

    Posted on April 19th, 2019 at 06:52 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    With Edge now absorbing the Chromium rendering engine*, I expect all of the Windows-centric bloggers to start explaining, in excruciating detail, why the New Edge is better than the current Google Chrome. The new Edge, it must be noted, is only available in beta preview versions. Even the latest Win10 1903 bits from MSDN contain the old Edge.

    Martin Brinkmann has a detailed side-by-side comparison, and come up with eight significant ways in which the beta Edgemium is better than (or at least different to) the shipping Chrome.

    In the end, I think this sentence hits the nail on the head:

    While you could say that you trade one data-hungry company for another, it boils down to personal preference.

    I think it’s great that Microsoft is getting back into the browser wars. (Deja vu all over again, eh?) It’ll be good for Microsoft, for Google, and most of all for us.

    I think Edgemium’s greatest foe is its pedigree. In my experience, people just don’t want Microsoft products unless they have to use them. But then again, Google’s had plenty of dirty laundry recently.

    Let the best browser win.

    *Good explainer by Gregg Keizer in Computerworld.

  • Google comes clean on that “emergency” security patch – and shows how it was used to trigger a Windows 7 0day

    Posted on March 8th, 2019 at 07:03 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Now I understand.

    Google releases patches for its Chrome browser all the time. As @b explained about 36 hours ago, Google sent out a special alert to get Chrome updated specifically to head off a 0day attack.

    I didn’t get too excited about it because Chrome automatically updates itself quite reliably, and because the threat didn’t seem to be all that great.

    A few hours ago, Clement Lecigne of the Google Threat Analysis Group added some key details:

    On Wednesday, February 27th, we reported two 0-day vulnerabilities — previously publicly-unknown vulnerabilities — one affecting Google Chrome and another in Microsoft Windows that were being exploited together.

    To remediate the Chrome vulnerability (CVE-2019-5786), Google released an update for all Chrome platforms on March 1; this update was pushed through Chrome auto-update. We encourage users to verify that Chrome auto-update has already updated Chrome to 72.0.3626.121 or later.

    The second vulnerability was in Microsoft Windows. It is a local privilege escalation in the Windows win32k.sys kernel driver that can be used as a security sandbox escape. The vulnerability is a NULL pointer dereference in win32k!MNGetpItemFromIndexwhen NtUserMNDragOver() system call is called under specific circumstances.

    We strongly believe this vulnerability may only be exploitable on Windows 7 due to recent exploit mitigations added in newer versions of Windows. To date, we have only observed active exploitation against Windows 7 32-bit systems.

    Pursuant to Google’s vulnerability disclosure policy, when we discovered the vulnerability we reported it to Microsoft. Today, also in compliance with our policy, we are publicly disclosing its existence, because it is a serious vulnerability in Windows that we know was being actively exploited in targeted attacks. The unpatched Windows vulnerability can still be used to elevate privileges or combined with another browser vulnerability to evade security sandboxes. Microsoft have told us they are working on a fix.

    As mitigation advice for this vulnerability users should consider upgrading to Windows 10 if they are still running an older version of Windows, and to apply Windows patches from Microsoft when they become available. We will update this post when they are available.

    Google’s vulnerability disclosure policy says, to a first approximation, that it gives software manufacturers 90 days to fix a security hole, and if no fix appears, they disclose the details.

    It’ll be interesting to see how Microsoft reacts.

    UPDATE: Catalin Cimpanu has a thorough timeline on ZDNet.

  • Woody’s Windows Watch: Dispatches from the browser-war’s front lines

    Posted on February 18th, 2019 at 05:38 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Internet Explorer isn’t a web browser. According to Microsoft, it’s been demoted to a “compatibility solution.”

    Edge has some big fans, very few users — and it’s about to get a heart transplant.

    Chrome’s the crowd pleaser, but one hare-brained idea (recently rescinded) has to give you pause.

    Firefox keeps on foxing, but in terms of usage numbers, it can’t get a break.

    What should you do?

    Out this morning in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.6.0. Now available – yes, for free — on AskWoody.

  • Keizer: IE and Firefox catch a break last month

    Posted on December 3rd, 2018 at 08:18 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Gregg Keizer has his usual excellent analysis of the monthly browser statistics:

    For the first time since June, Microsoft’s two browsers managed to hold onto their share of the browser market; the same could not be said of Firefox.

    Edge usage share was flat last month, but IE bumped up a little bit. Astounding.

    It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Surprisingly, Firefox is doing very well financially. But Chrome continues to swallow the earth.

  • Netmarketshare says Chrome’s getting even more market share, while IE and Edge continue to circle the drain

    Posted on November 1st, 2018 at 10:29 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Although Edge itself has gone up by a minuscule amount, IE 11 went down by more than Edge.

    All hail Chrome.

    See Gregg Keizer’s analysis in Computerworld.

    According to California-based analytics company Net Applications, IE’s and Edge’s share dropped by a quarter of a percentage point in October, ending at 13.8%, a record for the century and a number not seen by Microsoft since IE first took on Netscape Navigator in the 1990s.

  • Bank-Grade Security

    Posted on July 25th, 2018 at 01:15 Kirsty Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Before you do your online banking next, you might like to check out a website that rates the security of bank websites. It might have you rethinking just how secure they are.

    Bank Grade Security
    When companies say they have “Bank Grade Security” they imply that it is a good thing.
    In reality banks have poor security

    Check it out at https://bankgradesecurity.com/

     
    And while you are looking at online security issues, today marks the release of Chrome 68, which marks sites not using HTTPS as insecure. Security Researchers Troy Hunt and Scott Helme have just launched a new website, listing websites not using https. It’s not reassuring to see universities, government departments and many popular sites not using https yet, but there are early reports of sites changing to https as a result.

    You’ll find it at https://whynohttps.com

  • New version of Chrome guards against Spectre-like attacks, but eats more memory

    Posted on July 13th, 2018 at 06:02 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    We still haven’t seen a commercial implementation of the Meltdown or Spectre security vectors, but Google’s had this “site isolation” technology in the works for six years. This week, they flipped the switch. Now, your copy of Chrome on Windows will gobble even more memory. But you’ll be protected from Spectre attacks coming from the most likely source — your browser.

    Gregg Keizer in Computerworld:

    Google has switched on Site Isolation for the vast majority of Chrome users – 99% of them by the search giant’s account.

    Good article. Check it out.

    Nipping Spectre in the browser sure beats the all-on assault that’s unfolding in the rest of the ecosystem. I continue to maintain that the first major Meltdown and Spectre infections we’ll see in the wild will come through the browser.

  • Universal Windows Programs (“Metro apps”) aren’t dead yet, but there’s a better alternative on the horizon

    Posted on February 6th, 2018 at 11:56 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Microsoft just announced that it’s going to start building Progressive Web App support into Edge and Win10.

    Progressive Web Apps aren’t so much Google’s much-better alternative to Win10-only Universal Windows Programs (formerly known as “Metro apps” or “Universal apps” or “Windows Store Apps” or any of a half-dozen other monikers) as they are a genuine attempt to make browser-based applications look and feel more like regular ol’ apps.

    Chances are very good you’ve never seen a PWA in action. But they’re definitely coming. At some point.

    The theoretical benefits of PWAs over UWPs are enormous. Just for starters, UWPs can only run in the stripped-down Win10 environment. PWAs, on the other hand, should be able to run on just about anything that supports a browser — particularly Chrome, or ChromeOS. Yeah, that includes Chromebooks, at least at some point.

    The browser requirement has vanished in the past couple of years, banking on a concept called service worker. Horrible name, but web folks are good at horrible names. Paul Thurrott described service workers months ago:

    Google’s initial take on PWAs wasn’t that compelling: The full resources of Chrome needed to load each time a PWA ran, and there was no minimal user interface or runtime. But when Google introduced the notion of service worker, the technological core of what we now know as PWAs, it was a big differentiator. With service workers, PWAs could work like native apps, offering features like offline support, background processing, and more.

    It now looks to me as if there’s going to be a headlong dash into developing PWAs — and that UWP’s days are numbered. Time will tell.

    UPDATE: Mary Jo Foley has a calendar for future developments in Microsoft’s side of the PWA wars, in her ZDNet blog.