Monday, November 29, 2004

Browsing and Reading E-mail Safely

Are you browsing the Internet or reading email by using your administrator or root account? If you do, please take a good precaution, since this is not a good idea, since administrator or root account has super privileges, such as installing backdoors, changing system behaviour, and controlling access or service on the computer. It can be exploitted by another user if you don't have enough protection on your computer and your computer will be a zombie and can be used to launch a DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack.

Your first task is always creating a non-root account and use it as your daily activity. Second, you must use a better application that provides a better security parameter. Obviously, i would recommend using OpenSource application that is popular, such as Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird. If you come from Windows's user, you might want to read an article from Michael Howard, Microsoft Security Engineering that discuss about you can run as an administrator and access Internet data safely by dropping unnecessary administrative privileges when using any tool to access the Internet.

He also writes a program that apply his teory. DropMyRights is a very simple application to help users who must run as an administrator run applications in a much-safer context—that of a non-administrator. It does this by taking the current user's token, removing various privileges and SIDs from the token, and then using that token to start another process, such as Internet Explorer or Outlook. This tool works just as well with Mozilla's Firefox, Eudora, or Lotus Notes e-mail. If you are interested in his full article, please visit MSDN website and download DropMyRights.

If you come from Linux platform, there are another approach that can be taken to prevent this situation. You must upgrade the software to their newest version to fix a vulnerable hole. Just get used to it and join some security mailing list or your distribution's mailing list to get updated information about new packages that fixes some glitches.

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