Solving Google Chrome’s High CPU Usage

Most of us know that Google Chrome is the fastest browser today. It loads fast, it starts fast and it really navigates fast. 

But how many know that Chrome utilizes so much processor’s resources that for those PCs who have lower powered processors installed, suddenly, everything crawls down.

My laptop has a dual core processor and 2 GB of RAM (the standard off the shelf package). The only difference is that I use this laptop as a network management and monitoring unit. I’ve installed a processor and RAM monitoring facility (naaah, I am not using Windows gadgets which consumes lots of RAM), but instead, am using Rainmeter and its necessary skins.

What I’ve noticed is that when I was using Mozilla Firefox, CPU activities only range from 8-15% utilization on 45% RAM usage. The CPU activities nor the RAM usage do not go up when using Firefox’s multiple tab functionalities.

Recently, I’ve tried using Chrome, and using the same behavioral processes in browsing, I’ve noticed that my CPU and RAM usage spikes, even though I am confined with one tab. Much worse, it increases when I am using at least three tabs.

As I am writing this blog article using Chrome, I am only using 6% of my CPU and 40% of my RAM. Yes, I have three open tabs and I have multiple processes running in the background.

The secret?

I’ve found out that Chrome, in its default installation, protects users from phishing and malware on real time. Sure, small deal, but if it consumes 80% of your CPU and 80% of your RAM, its definitely big deal.

What I did is just to disable this functionality under the Options – Under the Bonnets area. And right there and then, my CPU usage went down from 60% to 14%, my RAM usage went down from 70% to 45% and everything is back to normal.

Of course, I am not saying that you go through everything without the phishing and malware protection for this is important.

But it surely works. I am also attaching a screenshot of my resource monitoring results here.

-ViZ-

Ways to Fix Gmail Slow Loading Issues

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Nothing personal, but the past few months, Google and its services seem to bug me up. Erroneous search outputs, failure to show images in Google Image searches, Google hangs, unrelated search outputs, missing Google calendar entries, worst….failure of calendar items to send me an SMS, which somehow led me to miss one of my appointments…. … Continue reading

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Social Networking and Balancing It To Network Security Objectives

With the explosion of social networking, interaction and  collaboration, email has lost its position as the primary Internet-based
communication tool. In fact, in a related literature that I’ve recently read, it reported that there were more social networking accounts than Webmail accounts in 2009.

Today, users rely more on blogs, tweets, social networking posts and  even video clip communications to enrich both personal and professional information exchange. Even businesses are leveraging social networking to communicate with customers, employees and partners.

While these sites and services offer tremendous business benefits, they also present serious risks that have to be managed. For instance,they are often the target of malicious attacks due to their popularity. Video sites like YouTube consume tremendous amounts of bandwidth if they are not properly managed on the corporate network. And employees may intentionally or accidentally leak sensitive company data onto a social networking site, breaches that can result in lost competitive information, public relations headaches, fines, legal action and more.

The good news is, with the right security approach, these consequences can be successfully avoided.

In addition to addressing technology gaps, you also have to educate users  about social networking security problems that stem from simple human error. And while the end user will likely remain the number one security risk for any organization, dramatic results can be achieved with just general security training.

Education should begin with the basics, but can be placed in the context of social networking to make them fresh and interesting.
For example, good login and password practices are a common problem within social networking. Routinely changing login credentials and protecting the confidentiality of passwords are basic security requirements – or should be. While this may sound like common sense, there was this recent fiasco may have been caused by one scientist who actually included his password in his email signature. So even highly educated users need to be reminded about basic security measures. Cybercriminals also know that many users use the same login ID and password on multiple sites, which enables attackers to easily gain access to social networking accounts. In one instance, many Twitter accounts were hacked when users were tricked into creating an account on a fake torrent site.

Other examples that are much less dramatic, but occur much more frequently, take place when users try to share something to a select group in an appropriate way, but do not realize that the way they shared it made it available to a broader group. Some applications may be popular enough to reasonably provide in-depth application training for users. A great example of an easily avoidable issue
recently occurred when over 100 million Facebook pages were compromised simply because most users did not understand some of the security settings available.

It may be worthwhile to start surveying users to identify their needs, applications of choice and perhaps even their own list of concerns. Then prepare a plan to ensure users are aware of how to use those applications safely.

Also, users need to be reminded that there are no safe zones on the web – including social networking sites. Assume that everything revealed on a social networking site will be visible on the Internet forever. Once it has been searched, indexed and cached, it may later turn up online no matter what steps are taken to delete it.

Finally, most users are no different than IT – no one reads the manual. So many users won’t really understand security guidelines until they violate them once or twice. “Coaching screens” are informational pop-ups or browser redirects that would appear at the instant a violation occurs to inform the user they have violated a policy, someone else knows about it, and explains how to prevent it from happening again. From a product standpoint, IT should look for solutions that not only provide security, but can also support education efforts.

Conclusion
Social networking has achieved a level of popularity that requires reasonable access at work, but it is also sufficiently mature to bring value to many businesses. But safe social networking requires an aggressive and layered security strategy at the web gateway, as well as the definition of new usage policies and priorities from management and IT. Better end-user education will also be required to ensure workers use social networking applications safely and appropriately.

The combination of layered security and education can help organizations dramatically reduce the risks from malware, phishing, data loss and bandwidth abuse.

Why is all this necessary? Cybercriminals are taking advantage of social networking’s fundamental model of familiarity, trust, sharing and open communications  to dupe users and steal valuable data.”

To close these security gaps, IT and business leaders must ensure they have the right security strategies   in place to identify and protect against the rapid evolution of social networking threats.

Do we need an endpoint security?

Business owners and IT managers would think that their anti-virus software would be enough for their day to day protection needs. They think that a separate endpoint security would be an additional cost and another thing to manage.  

But what we read in the papers are constant reminders that malware attacks and data leakage incidents are really on the rise. High profile incidents that make big new might seem out of the ordinary, yet businesses of every size face similar risks in the everyday acts of using digital technology and the internet for legitimate purposes.

Then, it was the anti-virus technology and the necessary response to security’s most common, but the most riskiest aspects. Where you need more than anti-virus is a not just a technological decision….it is a business decision. The original anti-virus concepts where zero-day threats are not handled is getting to be one of the biggest headaches in the IT security world today. Before, signature-based detection was sufficient when threats were fewer, farther between and generally, less dangerous.

Now that organized (or even, non-organized) cyber-criminals relentlessly troll for vulnerabilities, the risk is always high for ANY organization that uses technology in ordinary and legitimate ways.  Because exposure lies in such situations, organizations must update their protection beyond the traditional anti-virus. As experience show, letting your guard down has dangerous consequences.

But what are these ordinary situations that can bring you staggering consequences? Let me enumerate them:

A. Zero day threats

Zero-day threats are defined as threats which wreak havoc without having the anti-virus software identify it. No signature means no detection, no detection means no removal, and no removal means havoc. Examples of these are malware which consists of different identities everytime and those threats which seem to morph everytime.

What they can do to you? They can destroy your operating systems, steal information from your databases and servers and can put down your network.

B. Letting your employees work outside of the firewall

Before, employees just use to work within the protected and comfort levels of their internal corporate network where firewalls and gateways rule. But now, people work in airport lounges, internet cafes, hotels and their own homes.

What they can do to you? Working in unprotected networks is always risky. The Conficker virus is spread in vulnerable networks and that persistent outbreak experienced last year (and even up to now) created worldwide damage.

C. The unpatched PC

Patching means putting updates because of software lacks, mostly because of security. Some people choose to ignore updates on their PCs, and some systems administrators choose not to patch their servers because of the extensiveness of the activity.

What they can do to you? Simple…. the hackers simply exploit the security loopholes…. resulting in data loss… or they can simply use these loopholes as entry points for their more damaging exploit software.

D. The uncontrolled applications

Social networking sites as well as instant messengers are one of the security holes that must be covered. People with malicious intent (or sometimes, even those without malicious intent), intentionally or unintentionally leaks information via these channels.

E. Web Insecurity

Phishing websites are now used as data leakage channels. Why? it is because people simply trust the the valid websites, so that phishers imitate these websites.

F. The Lost Laptop  

A lost laptop is one of the biggest issues in data leakage. Imagine a laptop containing years and years of accounting information. Or imagine a laptop containing information on one of your most innovative products.. Once the laptop is lost, the information stored in there now has a new owner.

G. The misdirected e-mail

One small click, and that document that you may be protecting may fall into wrong hands. Such slim margins are unacceptable if that email contains very confidential data. In some organizations, employees use email to transfer information or to steal these data that they can sell or do identity theft.

H. The infected or lost USB flash drive    

Every time a user plug a USB device into a company computer, they bypass other layers of defense such as the gateway or the firewall protection. This makes devices with USB ports an easy means of attack. If no protection is available, it is an available swinging door for malware and data loss or theft channel. Also, do not forget that these USB devices are main channels of malware.

Conclusion:

As normal incidents show, there is no longer anything unusual about malware attacks and data breaches. Most happen everyday, and the classic anti-virus software is designed to block some of the threats. The best defense at the endpoint is multiple layers of protection integrated into a single solution, including live anti-virus, behavior based detection, URL filtering, applications control, network access control, data encryption, data loss prevention and device control.

Security can’t be handled by a single solution anymore.

 


			

The Frustrations….

… having been doing the same thing over and over for years already, and there is this instance where you have done this certain thing, but it does not work..

… people who do not seem to understand what you are trying to do..

… server or computer peripheral failures which are hard to detect and isolate (like network cards?)

… pirated software…

… old operating systems which gives you a hard time installing a certain device driver…

… old processors…

… insufficient memory…

… forgotten password…

… databases which does not seem to properly store and process information…

… trial software which seems to not to handle a certain process when you need them…

… hard disk crash…

… Windows updates which takes forever to load…

… Internet outage…

… new technologies which are not thoroughly tested…

… WiFi access which you cannot access…

and lots more…..

 

Now, there is FakeAV

Before, we only used to hear fake bags, fake shoes, fake movies, fake music and even fake identity. Now, there is this thing called as FakeAV. What is this new IT security lingo?

FakeAV or Fake AntiVirus, also known as Rogue AntiVirus, Rogues, or ScareWare, is a class of malware that displays false alert messages to the victim concerning threats that do not really exist. These alerts will prompt users to visit a website where they will be asked to pay for these non-existent threats to be cleaned up. The FakeAV will continue to send these annoying and intrusive alerts until a payment is made. 

During the last part of 2010, the number of FakeAVs has really grown. In fact, IT security experts have determined the quantity of these FakeAV variants from less than 1,000 late last year to around 500,000 today.  The reason for the increasing popularity of FakeAVs is because of the direct revenue source that FakeAV provides.  Compared to other malware variants, FakeAV is somewhat associated with some network communities that make large amounts of money by driving traffic toward the stores of their partners.

How will I know if I am dealing with FakeAVs?

FakeAVs use social engineering techniques to get it self installed. Normally, it goes through the routes of Windows Security updates, fake anti-virus pages and fake social network engineering applications.  Once installed, there could be several behaviors like popup messages, fake virus scanning where it usually reflects make believe files. FakeAVs usually use high-tech names so that it may sound valid like “security central”, “malware database”, etc.

How do we get FakeAVs?

There are may ways a FakeAV can get into your system, but the majority of which is that a user can be tricked into running installer executable in a way similar to how Trojans work. But the following are the most popular techniques:

  • E-mail spam campaigns
  • Infected websites
  • FakeAV downloads by other malware

Initiating a Fake Scan

Once a FakeAV is installed, it will usually attempt to contact a remote website and download the main component or a main program. This will initiate a fake system scan, where may non-existent threats will be discovered and reflected. A main FakeAV window is usually professionally created and victims can be convinced that they are using a genuine security product.

Once the fake threats have been discovered, users are told that they must register or activate the program to clean up the threats. Users are taken to a registration website where they are asked to enter their credit card number and give other confidential information. These pages are convincing, sometimes featuring the illegal use of logos and industry-recognized organizations. 

Other FakeAV behavior

Most FakeAVs also cause further effects to the victim by interfering with normal systems processes and runtime. Sometimes, this includes disabling of the task manager and use of the Registry Editor, prohibiting processes from running and even web site redirection. This behavior further convinces the victim that there is a problem on the system and increases the likelihood of a purchase being made.

Prevention and Protection

The most effective defense against FakeAVs is a comprehensive security as well as literacy. For network administrators, a layered security can and should take place at each stage.

URL Filtering : by blocking the domain and the URLs from which FakeAV is downloaded, infection can be prevented from ever happening.

Detection of Web-based Content:  it should include detection of Javascript and HTML used on FakeAV and fake webpages.

Runtime Detection: if a FakeAV executable manages to evade the other layers of protection, you should be able to detect and block the behavior of the FakeAV as it tries to execute on a system.

Spam blocking: self-explanatory, the network should recognize, detect and eliminate spam.

Conclusion:

FakeAV is a fast growing threat. The direct financial benefit gained from this threat will not go away in just one snap, in fact, it will be more widespread. FakeAVs are already being distributed via several sources and the variety and inventive distribution will only increase.



			

That USB Flash Drive

It’s pretty easy for organizations to get so wrapped up about what goes out on USB drives that they forget to protect against what comes in their environments via USB. And with attacks inflicting increasingly greater damage following uncontrolled connection, it’s time that organizations got serious about this threat.

The news today is chock full of stories about sensitive information being carried out the institutional perimeter on ‘simple’ USB devices. These powerful portable drives rightfully worry IT as a means for devastating data loss at the hands of malicious insiders. But it’s
pretty easy for organizations to get so wrapped up about what goes out on USB drives that they forget to protect against what comes in their environments via USB. And with attacks inflicting increasingly greater damage following uncontrolled connection, it’s time
that organizations got serious about this threat.  
After all, according to researchers, as many as one in four malware attacks1 is carried out through a USB device. In the past year, we’ve seen Stuxnet raise its ugly head and Conficker continue to circulate through the USB vector. And yet the proliferation of USB devices only continues to skyrocket by billions each year.

In order to keep organizations secure from threats, IT departments must bring greater scrutiny and control over how the network is exposed to potentially infected portable payloads. But let’s get real: they can’t do so by gluing USB ports shut. Portable devices as  these are business tools that are here to stay. IT leaders who refuse to recognize that fact will be seen throughout their organizations as inhibitors to success. The key to USB security is balancing productivity with protection.

Early on, USB malware was exploratory and experimental. Most of all it was just, well, random. Hackers would find ways to get malware files onto drives–either online or even manually–and cross their fingers in hope that the intended victim clicked the files to initiate infection.

But as USB platforms evolved, so did the attack methods. Functionality enhancements opened up new possibilities for hackers. For example, Windows Autorun made it simpler for users to gain immediate access to the contents of their drives but also enabled hackers to write code that could initiate without user intervention. And now, new attack platforms such as the U3 smartdrive platform made it possible to run applications directly from the drive, giving hackers another potentially untraceable attack vehicle.

This manipulation of Autorun is a common theme with many malware variants that plague IT environments today.  Any USB device connected to an infected machine would become infected and then would infect any other machine to which it was connected;
then that machine would begin infecting other USB devices plugged into it. This is how the malware is able to move from machine to machine via USB devices and this “worm like” malware propagation method copies itself to all available drives, shares, removable media and peer-to-peer software application file folders.

This can greatly increase the exposure surface of an organization that may otherwise have its network security bases covered. In fact, Microsoft recently announced its findings that Windows XP users were 10 times more likely to get infected when faced with such an attack. In addition to propagating malware, USB drives have also proven to be exceptional hacking platforms for those attackers with physical access to corporate machines. One of the many legitimate useful features of USB drives is their ability to act as a “PC on a stick” through the use of certain platform and virtualization utilities.  But again, this legitimate use can also be used for dark purposes. It also makes it possible for malicious users to replicate their entire Windows hacking lab with a USB device and run it on virtually any PC
with an available USB port. When the malicious user is done, she simply removes the USB device and leaves without a trace.

Balancing USB Usefulness with Protection

It is now difficult to return to the days of yore when IT administrators would simply glue USB ports shut and call their endpoints secure. USB devices are an everyday necessity whether you’re running a mom-and-pop business, a corporate office or a government department.

The truth is that portable devices have done great things for the business world, which leverages these devices for incredible productivity gains. A late 2010 survey found that all of nearly 230 workers surveyed own at least one USB flash drive and more than half own three to six of these devices.

Today’s workers can now use ultra-portable flash drives to easily transfer large amounts of data between locations. They can use these same devices to store important presentation information while on the road at conferences and sales meetings. And large organizations can quickly disseminate information to a large number of customers or employees by uploading data to USB devices and distributing
them to the right people.

USB Security Best Practices
So what exactly does it take to change our trust models? It starts with smart policy development. Some key policies that organizations should consider to reduce their risks right off the bat include:

  • Ensuring common PC and laptop configurations have AutoRun features disabled, limiting the efficacy of USB malware that depends on this feature to run and to propagate.
  • Requiring timely installation of security updates in order to minimize the risk of USB-borne malware taking advantage of unpatched endpoint vulnerabilities.
  • Limiting access of USB and portable devices to registered devices only, enabling better control over who, when and how devices are being utilized.
  • Preventing the initiation of some or all executables from portable devices, blocking malware from running in the first place.
  • Requiring strong passwords (and not allowing the use of default passwords) throughout your infrastructure to prevent worms such as Stuxnet from working their way further into systems.
  • Requiring proper, up-to-date AV and firewall usage to prevent malware from gaining a foothold within the endpoint and spreading to other systems in the network.

While the first battle in the war against mobile malware starts with the development of clear, in-depth policies regarding the use of removable devices and media, the ultimate fight still remains. None of those policies amount to much without solid enforcement. Unfortunately, most organizations havenot yet gotten that message.

Putting Teeth In Policies

By enforcing usage policies for removable devices such as USB flash drives and other removable media such as CDs / DVDs, you can control the flow of inbound and outbound data from your endpoints.

Devices that are not authorized should simply not be allowed to execute. Ideally, organizations should look for tools and develop processes that enable them to quickly establish and enforce device control policies as simply and as methodically as possible. The idea
is to enable users to continue to use approved devices without resorting to an outright blanket ban.

Policies should be manageable by user or user group as well as by computer, and organizations should look for capabilities that enable user groups to be immediately associated with devices “on-the-fly.” The goal is to dramatically simplify the management of endpoint
device resources through improved tracking of who, when and how devices are being used. By validating removable devices as they are used within the enterprise, you can prevent malware from being introduced into the network. This includes assigning permissions
for authorized removable devices and media to individual users or user groups and controlling the uploading of unknown or unwanted files from removable devices.

Organizations should also widen the lens a bit and think about more than just simple device control. Defense-in-depth should play a role in risk mitigation. For example, intelligent whitelisting technology can help prevent the initiation of risky applications running on the endpoints by controlling the trust factors that enable execution, such as code source, who authorized the application, whether it is running on other stable systems within the network and from where the application originated. And the use of encryption
to augment defenses could make network assets less attractive to potential attackers.

Finally, organizations should consider revisiting end user training to ensure they’re covering the risks posed by USB devices. That one-time discussion on the first day at work has likely been long forgotten by most employees and is undoubtedly obsolete anyway.

After all, these workers really are your first, last and best defense against USB attacks. That’s why IT professionals need to remember that in order to win over the hearts and minds of these line-of-business users, they’ll need to institute policies and practices that don’t
adversely affect these workers’ daily productivity. This means taking control of USB device usage without stooping to wholesale purchases of superglue.

By developing policies and implementing solutions that enable a more flexible but easily trackable environment, IT departments become partners in security and business success rather than technology mall cops to be disregarded at all costs. Enterprises with
such forward-looking technology decision-makers will gain a decisive productivity advantage while protecting their organizational endpoints.

While we’ve focused much of our attention on the ubiquitous USB flash drive, organizations need to think about threats that extend from all forms of removable media in use today. These include: CD drives, DVD drives, Blu-ray drives, FireWire, External hard disks, eSATA connected devices and Consumer products such as picture frames, MP3 players, digital cameras, etc.