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Posts Tagged ‘safari’

What is your browser telling you about SSL/TLS?

Monday, August 7th, 2017

Interpreting a browser’s visual clues about security

The continuous drumbeat of news about pervasive surveillance, security breaches, identity theft, malware, phishing and so forth has had at least one salutary effect on our interactions on the web. The general public is increasingly aware of the need for safe browsing habits, such as not clicking on unknown links in webmail, hovering your cursor over hyperlinks to see if you recognize the URL revealed, and, above all, to “Look for the Lock”.

Such mnemonics and visual aids are important ways to communicate security features to end users, allowing them to take informed decisions on what level of trust they should expect during a particular instance of communications on the web. This post will concentrate on these visual indicators, in particular how browsers represent the identity of the server/site with which an end user would like to interact. The SSL/TLS certificate that the server presents to the browser at the start of the communications is the information source which the browser uses to create the appropriate visual representation that guides the user. Readers would do well to brush up their knowledge on the different types of certificates that are available by reading our previous posts on the subject, as what follows will assume that the reader is aware (at least at a high level) of their basic properties and differences.

Most people are now aware of the need to look for the https://….. in the browser address bar as well as the lock symbol accompanying it. This is the part of the screen that is controlled purely by the browser, which populates it with the site URL and other security information gathered from the SSL/TLS certificate used to secure the connection.

For instance, look at the images below of the luxsci.com website as shown in the address bar of Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Edge browsers.

Chrome

Internet Explorer

Mozilla Firefox

Microsoft Edge

(The screen shots were taken using Chrome version 59.0.3071.115, IE version 11.0.9600, Firefox 10.0.2 and Edge 38.14393.1066.)

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256-bit AES Encryption for SSL and TLS: Maximal Security

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

SSL and TLS are the workhorses that provide the majority of security in the transmission of data over the Internet today. However, most people do not know that the degree of security and privacy inherent in a “secure” connection of this sort can vary from “almost none” to “really really good … good enough for US government TOP SECRET data”.  The piece which varies and thus provides the variable level of security is the “cipher” or “encryption technique”.  There are a large number of different ciphers — some are very fast and very insecure.  Some are slower and very secure.  Some weak ones (export-grade ciphers) are around from the days when the USA did not permit the export of decent security to other countries.

AES, the Advanced Encryption Standard, is a relatively new encryption technique/cipher that is the successor of DES.  AES was standardized in 2001 after a 5 year review, and is currently one of the most popular algorithms used in symmetric key cryptography (which, for example, is used for the actual data transmission in SSL and TLS).  It is also the “gold standard” encryption technique; many security-conscious organizations actually require that their employees use AES-256 (256-bit AES) for all communications.

This article discusses AES, its role in SSL, which web browsers and email programs support it, how you can make sure that you only use 256-bit AES encryption of all secure communications, and more.

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Simplicity is: logging in without a username or password

Monday, July 28th, 2014

“I really like what I can do in the web interface, but having to enter my username and password to login each time is extra work.”

We’ve seen the above comment many times.  Identity verification, as everyone who has not been lost on a desert island for 10 years knows, is really, really important these days.  But like many aspects of security, it can be rather annoying.

On the bright side, there are a number of ways to get around this step and make the login process simpler without necessarily making your account less secure.  Here is how we have helped many customers simplify their Internet life.

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LuxSci Gets a Fresh Look

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

LuxSci has finished updating its Web Interface, giving it a much more modern look via use of some technologies present in most modern web browsers, like Google Chrome, FireFox 3.6+, Safari, Opera 10, and Internet Explorer 9.

The web interface:

  • Now is now fully compatible with Internet Explorer 9 and Google Chrome for Mac
  • Is fastest in Google Chrome, out of all available web browsers
  • Looks best in: Google Chrome, FireFox 3.6+, or Safari 5
  • Still looks pretty good in Opera 10 and Internet Explorer 9
  • Looks fine in other supported browsers (the interface is backwards compatible with older technologies) like Internet Explorer 6-8, Opera 9, FireFox 2+, and older supported versions of Safari.

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New “Mobile Mode” for PDAs and Smart Phones

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

LuxSci has offered an “Xpress” WebMail portal for many years.  The portal is fast, simple, and works with most devices because it does not use any JavaScript or cookies, and uses few images.  The Xpress portal is good for security, privacy, and access from legacy devices, as well as over very slow connections.

However, the mobile device landscape is quickly changing.  Starting with the iPhone and its full-featured Safari web browser, to the Android, the Palm Pre, and the availability of browsers like OperaMini on many phones, it is now the case that many “cutting edge” phones actually have fast web browsers that fully support JavaScript, AJAX, CSS, and broadband — all the technologies formerly the purview of the desktop.  Their major drawback, however, is still the very small screen. Many of these browsers work perfectly well with most web sites, including LuxSci’s full-featured WebMail portal; however, it can be problematic and painful to use and navigate sites designed for large displays on these device’s small screens.

Enter LuxSci’s new “Mobile Mode”.  Mobile Mode is a new feature of LuxSci’s regular WebMail interface that is available when it detects that you are accessing it using a mobile device, such as an iPhone.

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