Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

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Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:53 pm

Hi all:
I recently fixed up one of my old XP computers for use by a needy senior citizen. It runs fine but with the dropping of support by Microsoft for XP in April it will become dangerous for him to go online. I wondered if I installed Firefox browser for him and instructed him to not use Internet Explorer if continued use of XP might be safe(r)? Or would it not make much difference?
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:55 pm

You're proposing putting a bandaid on a sucking chest wound. It'll help but not much.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:07 pm

also firefox will be dropping support for xp when MS stop supporting it

I understand chrome will continue to work for a while but not forever

If they really can't bring themselves to get new PCs their only option will be a linux of some sort (assuming that running 7 or 8 won't happen on their hardware and lets be honest springing for a new OS on an XP era machine is a little short sighted.) Although of course even many linuxs don't play that well with very old hardware.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:12 pm

Keep in mind that Microsoft dropping support for XP is partially a function of Vista/7/8 adoption, and malware is targetted in the same way. So even though support is dropping, so too is the risk of a malware attack. Lack of support just means that the vulnerabilities aren't going to be fixed.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:15 pm

cheesyking wrote:also firefox will be dropping support for xp when MS stop supporting it

I understand chrome will continue to work for a while but not forever

If they really can't bring themselves to get new PCs their only option will be a linux of some sort (assuming that running 7 or 8 won't happen on their hardware and lets be honest springing for a new OS on an XP era machine is a little short sighted.) Although of course even many linuxs don't play that well with very old hardware.


Firefox alone won't make up for XP being left in the dust. If I had to keep an XP box running and internet-ready it would be a pretty easy choice to make, but it isn't going to save you from the slow, terrible eruption of malware on the platform that's coming.

For day to day silverhair computing tasks Linux would be fine. Motherboard chipsets, ethernet, and humdrum everyday hardware's been a solved problem for years. If it's running Intel hardware it's set; if it's running AMD hardware it's set (though it might not run at the peak of its potential for speed); and Nvidia still offers a periodically updated legacy Linux driver. Put Xubuntu or Linux Mint on the box, have a training day and some documentation available, and you'll be set.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:27 pm

Chrome would be a better choice over Firefox.

Once the OS falls out of support any measure you take (short of unplugging it from the network) is going to be about as effective as a band aid for a severed limb.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:44 pm

Firefox does have some good plugins, like adblock+, no script, and others. Some do limit the functionality of the web browser, but do also improve the security.

Malwarebytes anti-malware can be installed with the active scan enabled which would also help.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:56 pm

superjawes wrote:Keep in mind that Microsoft dropping support for XP is partially a function of Vista/7/8 adoption, and malware is targetted in the same way. So even though support is dropping, so too is the risk of a malware attack. Lack of support just means that the vulnerabilities aren't going to be fixed.

I'm not buying that one. XP still has around 30% of the market, which is triple the market share of Mac OS and Linux combined. Once a major unpatched vulnerability is found, (give it about 48 hours, tops) malware writers are going to be alllll over that. They're probably salivating at the thought.

There's a few things you can do to try to protect yourself (heavy malware protection, script blocking browser extensions), but I would still view all XP systems as insecure in 3 months. Personally, I expect some major companies to have their data compromised, and it may become a big deal for millions of people.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 7:32 pm

True, but if a serious threat shows up and Microsoft doesn't do anything they may find out the hard way what happens when the enterprise dragon wakes up. Buy popcorn futures now folks because between XP and 8/9 I expect 2014 to be a very entertaining year in Windows land.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 7:46 pm

At least they are going to keep updating MSE for XP for an additional 15 months. That may help.

http://arstechnica.com/information-tech ... -reprieve/
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:10 pm

Thanks for all the replies. I kinda thought Firefox wouldn't solve all the problems XP faces but since all he was going to use the pc for was emails, games, music and photo work I thought maybe the avast free anti-virus and firefox would prevent infections. But opening the wrong emails can be a source of infections. I have Xubuntu in a dual-boot on another of my OLD computers and can install it on his but I don't think he'll like using it and will wind up with a badly infected PC. I'll go ahead and install Chrome email for him and remove Firefox. Thanks again.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:25 pm

superjawes wrote:Keep in mind that Microsoft dropping support for XP is partially a function of Vista/7/8 adoption, and malware is targetted in the same way. So even though support is dropping, so too is the risk of a malware attack. Lack of support just means that the vulnerabilities aren't going to be fixed.


XP still has a pretty significant share of the market, and a lot of those people aren't going to switch now just because support is ending. I expect that attacks targeted for XP will actually increase - perhaps by a lot - over the next few months to a year, simply because the folks who write malware know that whatever new vulnerabilities they find will remain unfixed.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:31 pm

NovusBogus wrote:True, but if a serious threat shows up and Microsoft doesn't do anything they may find out the hard way what happens when the enterprise dragon wakes up. Buy popcorn futures now folks because between XP and 8/9 I expect 2014 to be a very entertaining year in Windows land.


Honestly, if you're running a business and you're keeping your data (or worse, your customers data) on a system that you know will be insecure in the near future, the blame should fall on you, not Microsoft, if that data is compromised.

It's probably true that a lot of the negative press would fall on Microsoft, but it frankly shouldn't. XP is thirteen years old, and Microsoft has given far more than enough notice that support would be going away.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:32 pm

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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:00 pm

Install Sandboxie and have Firefox run inside it.

http://www.sandboxie.com/
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:52 pm

Even sandboxing the web browser may not be enough. Without critical security fixes, what if there is a networking exploit that allows remote execution, even if Windows Firewall (you have it enabled, right?) is active?

And then what about the other apps, for the stated "photo work" (whatever that means). I would assume that involves local storage, meaning you can't quite sandbox it.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:22 am

The Egg wrote:I'm not buying that one. XP still has around 30% of the market, which is triple the market share of Mac OS and Linux combined. Once a major unpatched vulnerability is found, (give it about 48 hours, tops) malware writers are going to be alllll over that. They're probably salivating at the thought.

There's a few things you can do to try to protect yourself (heavy malware protection, script blocking browser extensions), but I would still view all XP systems as insecure in 3 months. Personally, I expect some major companies to have their data compromised, and it may become a big deal for millions of people.


That's assuming those groups don't already have a few future 0-day's saved away until MS drops support. My money is on them holding back until the day support stops, then unloading them when they know MS won't do anything about it.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:26 am

SuperSpy wrote:That's assuming those groups don't already have a few future 0-day's saved away until MS drops support. My money is on them holding back until the day support stops, then unloading them when they know MS won't do anything about it.

Which is what has me teetering on the edge of replacing my current XP install with full-on Linux. From a tech standpoint I know I should do it, but 22 years on the Windows platform (I started with 3.1) means that I need to wrap my brain around it first. Not so easy for some of us old codgers.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:29 am

Ubuntu?
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:49 am

Yeah, I've had a brief discussion with him about this already. He's thinking of giving Kubuntu a try. I've been on Ubuntu for about 5 years now, and switched to the Kubuntu flavor when they rolled out Unity as their default desktop, so at least he will have company. :wink:
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:38 am

No matter what distro I end up with, it will run KDE as I've stared at a Win2K-style desktop (still do at work under Win7 using Classic Shell) for far too long to make radical changes in one go.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:46 am

Captain Ned wrote:
SuperSpy wrote:That's assuming those groups don't already have a few future 0-day's saved away until MS drops support. My money is on them holding back until the day support stops, then unloading them when they know MS won't do anything about it.

Which is what has me teetering on the edge of replacing my current XP install with full-on Linux. From a tech standpoint I know I should do it, but 22 years on the Windows platform (I started with 3.1) means that I need to wrap my brain around it first. Not so easy for some of us old codgers.


Don't be afraid to try Linux and supplement with an XP virtual machine for edge cases. Set up a shared directory to facilitate data exchange when you need to, and ease your way out of it.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:23 pm

Concupiscence wrote:Don't be afraid to try Linux and supplement with an XP virtual machine for edge cases. Set up a shared directory to facilitate data exchange when you need to, and ease your way out of it.

Oh, whenever I do take the plunge one of my goals will be to virtualize my existing XP install (If anyone wants to tell me how to convert an existing install into a VM image, I'm all ears). I'm not unknown to Kubuntu as my daughter's laptop runs it (and was the subject of many back'n'forths between me and JBI). As a teenager she can't stay away from malware-infested websites and the weekly MBAM sessions/cleaning/etc, not to mention the constant whining about Flash updates (giving a computer that doesn't run Flash to a teenager results in said computer lodged in sheetrock), got to the point where I just threw Kubuntu 12.04 LTS on it to stop some of that. Even then, I need to reinstall it as she's somehow borked it to the point where it won't update. I'm not grepping through config files to find out why, I'm just gonna go full Ripley on it once 14.04 LTS comes out. That's also my target distro for my conversion. It may be after official XP expiration, but I'll ride out the couple of weeks.

My guess is that the bodged Netflix app ("Customized" Wine running an older version of Firefox/Win to make Silverlight work) is to blame.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:18 pm

Captain Ned wrote:My guess is that the bodged Netflix app ("Customized" Wine running an older version of Firefox/Win to make Silverlight work) is to blame.

I'd be *somewhat* surprised if that was to blame, but Wine has always been a pretty crazy hack so who knows. A couple of years ago I was using an Ubuntu box that had Wine installed; I accidentally double-clicked on a Windows installer in a folder shared from a Windows machine (don't remember what the installer was, it was for a utility along the lines of WinZip or WinSCP). Imagine my surprise when the installer launched without complaint. Some pretty major geek cognitive dissonance there! :lol:

If you care, I may be able to diagnose that for you if you open a CLI and run "sudo apt-get update" followed by (if that doesn't complain) "sudo apt-get upgrade". Paste any resulting output here or PM/e-mail it to me.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:27 pm

just brew it! wrote:If you care, I may be able to diagnose that for you if you open a CLI and run "sudo apt-get update" followed by (if that doesn't complain) "sudo apt-get upgrade". Paste any resulting output here or PM/e-mail it to me.

If I can pry it out of her hands for 30 seconds I'll give it a whirl, assuming I can find in my notes/Dropbox the admin login I created when I built the thing. Should I run this from the admin account or user-level with the sudo? Her account should be a regular user account, but you know teenagers.

I'll still Ripley, but the diagnosis knowledge will come in handy some day.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:34 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
just brew it! wrote:If you care, I may be able to diagnose that for you if you open a CLI and run "sudo apt-get update" followed by (if that doesn't complain) "sudo apt-get upgrade". Paste any resulting output here or PM/e-mail it to me.

If I can pry it out of her hands for 30 seconds I'll give it a whirl, assuming I can find in my notes/Dropbox the admin login I created when I built the thing. Should I run this from the admin account or user-level with the sudo? Her account should be a regular user account, but you know teenagers.

Unless you explicitly enabled direct root login you will need to use sudo. Unlike many other distros, Ubuntu's default security model is that direct root logins are disabled, and anything requiring elevation is done via sudo (or one of its GUI brethren). You can elevate an entire CLI session by doing "sudo -i" though; once you do that any privileged commands entered in that CLI window do not require the "sudo" (or re-entry of the password).

Maybe this sub-thread ought to get split to the Linux forum...
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:43 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
Concupiscence wrote:Don't be afraid to try Linux and supplement with an XP virtual machine for edge cases. Set up a shared directory to facilitate data exchange when you need to, and ease your way out of it.

Oh, whenever I do take the plunge one of my goals will be to virtualize my existing XP install (If anyone wants to tell me how to convert an existing install into a VM image, I'm all ears).


http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/micros ... Id=2005129

There are other "p2v" tools out there, too. We've done the VMWare one at work a while ago. Heck, in a quick search I found that a product we already use can do it, too! http://www.todo-backup.com/products/fea ... irtual.htm
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:55 pm

I've done it with Windows XP 64-bit on VirtualBox, but the source was a corporate VLK image on a bog standard HP Intel-based system, so WPA and funky chipset driver issues did not come into play.

I can attempt to walk you through it if you want, but in the end you may get "had" by WPA.
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:46 pm

"Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!"
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Re: Using Firefox in XP solve malware, virus problems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:40 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415

Sysinternals has a tool as well.

Hmm, well under the size limit, so I'm good there. Linux tools recognize VHDs? Gotta admit that a SysInternals tool makes me feel a lot more comfortable about the process.
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