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News

Compact Webpages For Mobile Devices Hold Hidden Dangers

Lieberman Software : 25 May, 2011  (Technical Article)
Phil Lieberman comments on the vulnerabilities users face if they adopt compact web browsers for tablet PC equipment which hide URLs providing improved compact navigation but increased vulnerability from cyber-criminals
Compact Webpages For Mobile Devices Hold Hidden Dangers

Lieberman Software has warned Internet users to be extremely cautious before installing forthcoming netbook/tablet PC versions of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox which hide the URL of Web sites that users visit - a technique known as compact Web page navigation.


According to Phil Lieberman, President and Chief Executive of the privileged identity management specialist, surfing the Web without being completely aware - at all times - of which sites you are using is a dangerous practice, especially for novice users of the Internet.


"While  I can understand the desire to increase the available Web page real estate for users of smaller screen devices, I think that there is a real risk that cybercriminals will target users of Chrome Canary and the forthcoming plus unnamed version of Firefox in a bid to silently re-route them to infected Web pages," he said.


"There really needs to be more thought that goes into this compact Web page navigation strategy. It's interesting that Firefox 4 has a LessChrome HD add-on, as this appears to only hide the URL of the page being accessed on selective basis. The danger, however, is that hackers will subvert the code of the add-in, perhaps by using a poisoned software update strategy," he added.


Lieberman went on to say that lessons need to be learned from smartphone Web browsers such as Safari on the Apple iPhone and iPad, which displays the URL details and search engine element at the top of the user's screens at all times.


If the user wants to see more of the page on a smartphone, they can turn the handset through 90 degrees and then scroll down, he explained.


And, he says, users can also zoom in or out of the page to get a better overview of the site in question. The same facility exists on most tablet computers.


As regards netbooks with 10 inches or less screens, the Lieberman Software President went on to say, users can use similar techniques to see more of the Web page, such as reducing the size of the text or - shock-horror - using the scroll page down option.


Specialised web browsers, such as Skyfire for the iPhone/Ipad and Android smartphones plus tablets, have their place in the portable Web browsing marketing, he says, but users must be proactive in downloading the apps and then set them up appropriately.


"The danger with offering customised versions of browsers with a compact Web page navigation facility as standard is that netbook and tablet computer users will use this version as standard, meaning Internet newbies run the increased risk of a cybercriminal infection," he said.


"This is a really bad development in the Web browser software stakes. Web browser developers would be far better off if they focused their attentions on developing enhanced user control interfaces such as haptic or gesture-based control systems," he added.

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