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Old 12. Sep 2012, 10:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Site Specific Browsers - are they safe?

This week I've been playing with a couple of site specific browsers - for some regularly used sites like wunderground and gmail, they are loads faster and smoother than using a normal browser.

However, as a generally paranoid person, I'm wondering how safe they are...? Especially in light of frequent and recent stories about Java vulnerabilities, I've gone back to using noscript in Firefox but must confess I really don't understand all the issues and theory.

So, does anyone have any thoughts/knowledge on the topic? Is there any reason why using an SSB for gmail would be any less safe than using Firefox?
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Old 12. Sep 2012, 11:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Wouldn't bother me.

You can consider the sources of vulnerability and then look at the risks. Here's some quick thoughts:
  • compromised DNS server - a risk outside the SSB ecology
    = no worse off than any other website as SSB won't help if you get sent to the wrong site to start with
  • compromised website
    + SSB may have limited functionality thereby reducing the options for malicious actions
    = your likely to be in trouble anyway if a trusted website is compromised
  • compromised browser
    + SSB may have limited functionality thereby reducing the options for malicious actions e.g. doesn't need vulnerable Javascript or Flash if none used on the site
    = may be a version of a secure browser like Chrome (which you can use to make your own SSB)
    = trust for the SSB depends how much you trust the publisher/website
    - SSB vulnerabilities may be less well understood
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Old 12. Sep 2012, 11:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Just use Sandboxie and then you probably wouldn't have to worry about it....

Where's Bo when you need him....
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Old 13. Sep 2012, 03:22 AM   #4 (permalink)
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SSB are probably safe but you would be safer, in my opinion, if you disable Java with NioScript while running Firefox under the supervision of Sandboxie. Using SBIE and NoScript together works great. To be even safer, uninstalling Java would help.

Bo
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Old 18. Sep 2012, 09:04 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks very much for your comments everybody, much appreciated.

Yes I use Sandboxie a lot anyway, I find it reassuring as well as useful for trying out new apps, but that's by the by.

I've tried out three different SSB utilities this week, as well as one or two totally specific, e.g. Desktop Google Reader. I'll see if there's a thread where I can waffle a bit about those

Anyway... Remah, yes, I found a few forums where people have said that they feel safer in an SSB than a normal browser, for the reasons you mention.
Bo, thanks yes. I use Firefox with Noscript but some sites I frequent just don't work without Java so I don't know about uninstalling. But it is just the inability to disable Java that's my main worry with SSBs.

I guess I'll try it for a week and see if how it goes, or maybe try it in Virtual Box.

Thanks again.
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