Tag: Browser


It’s Time to Remove Flash Now

The Adobe Flash plugin as long been the standard for internet video and interactive games.  Many sites have used it to distribute video while maintaining some semblance of protection for content.  Flash has enabled websites developers to produce beautiful and interactive websites, but that great power is also the problem.  Flash can also be used to serve up malware due to its many exploits.  Despite Adobe’s constant patching –  sometimes weekly – the number of vulnerabilities keeps climbing.  HTML5 is the new web standard being used to incorporate video content delivery instead of Flash.  Since it is an industry standard instead of a proprietary system, security is placed on the browser and not on plugins.

Flash Vulnerabilities

CVE Details sums up the Flash Player Vulnerabilities:


flash vulnerabilities by year








flash vulnerabilities by type

2015 was a big year for vulnerabilities in Flash.  We’re less than three months into 2016 and this year looks like it could be another big year too.  If you look at the second graph the tallest line is the Execute Code type.  That means that the vulnerability allowed remote code to be run on the victim’s computer.  Not all of those were actually actively exploited, but the fact that there have been so many ways to exploit Flash is frightening.

It’s Time to Remove Flash

The consensus among most IT professionals now is that if you haven’t already, it’s time to remove Flash player from your computer.  There are several different versions of the Flash player and they all should be removed or disabled.  Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge browsers have Flash built into them and so it can’t be removed, but it can be disabled or used selectively.  Check out the screenshot tutorial videos below to learn how to uninstall Flash on your computers:

In Windows:

Go to the control panel and then uninstall programs.  In the list look for Adobe Flash and uninstall it.  That will remove it from all but Chrome and Edge if you are using Windows 10.  Also look for

Disable in Edge:


Disable in Chrome


I missed one step in the video.  When you first enter the settings screen you have to hit the “show advanced settings” at the bottom.

Chrome Let me choose optionI personally leave Flash enabled in Chrome but use the “Let me choose when to run plugin content” that allows me to use when needed.  By using the Chrome version of Flash I keep Flash as current as possible because it’s automatically updated with Chrome.




On a Mac:

time to remove flashAdobe has a uninstaller that will remove Flash.  https://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player/kb/uninstall-flash-player-mac-os.html

On Linux:

If you are using Linux, then I will assume that you know how to remove Flash already.  Different distros will handle this differently.

Have questions?

Contact me if you have questions or need assistance: Kent Warden, 913-593-8074.

Personalize Firefox Settings

Mozilla Firefox Logo

A Few Simple ways To Personalize Firefox Settings


Personalized Firefox Settings Begin Here

Firefox Menu Bar Option

To Menu or Not to Menu

One of the first things you may want to personalize in Firefox settings is whether you see the menu bar or not.  As can be seen in this picture the menu bar is checked.  This shows the standard menu.

File   Edit    View   History   Bookmarks   Tools   Help

Firefox without the menu bar When the Menu Bar is unchecked the bar disappears and a single button in the upper left corner of the browser window appears.  This is how you access the menu without the menu bar.  This is also the default view for Firefox.  So if you download and install Firefox this is what you will see.
Firefox options

 Firefox Options

Since the default for Firefox is to not show the menu bar I will show how to access the Options from the standard menu.  With the menu bar you simply click on Tools then options.

Most options are available through this menu selection.  You can click on either “Options” location circled in red.

  Home Page

Firefox Homepage Firefox uses a “Home Page” this can be the first page to load when the browser starts.  There is also a “Home button” that will take you to that page.  This line is where that URL is set.  If you are on the page you want to to use you can simply click the Use Current Page button.  You can set this via one of your bookmarks or you can simply restore the default.  The default is a Mozilla start page that uses Google as a search engine.  It is possible to load multiple pages if you want simply by entering the addresses of sites separated by a pipe |.This is also a trick of some undesirable software uses to make their pages load.  They will hijack this line and make it lead to their site.  To revert back to your desired Home Page simple change this line.
Firefox start page options

When Firefox Starts

You can also choose how Firefox will start up.  You can show your home page or you can show a blank page.  You may also choose to show my windows and tabs from last time.  This option will load up your browser just like it was when it was closed down.  You must have history enabled for this options to work.  Default settings retain browser history so I will not go into that here.

Firefox download location

Where to Download Files

On this same page you can choose the default download location.  The directory may be selected here or you can choose to be asked each time a download is initiated.

Firefox Searching

Searching in Firefox

Searches can be done in either of the two locations circled.  The URL line will conduct a search as well as the search box.  The Search box though is where the desired search engine is selected.

Firefox search list Selecting the default search engine can be done by simply clicking on the pull down in the corner of the search box.  The option can be changed quickly and easily anytime you want.  At the bottom of the list is the Manage Search Engines… That will bring up the window below.
Firefox search engines The Manage Search Engine List is where you can add and remove search engines or change the order.

Pinned Browser Tabs

Firefox Pinning a Tab

Pin Your Most Used Sites

With the availability of tabbed browsing and so many cloud services, the browser has become one of the most used programs on the computer.  We use many of these sites or pages like they were applications: email, calendars, Facebook, news, weather, cloud drive portals. If you visit the site you want to “pin” you simply right click on the tab, then click on the pin tab option.

ff-pinnedtab Once this is done the “Pinned Tab” will be moved to the left of all other tabs and shrunk down as well. These pinned tabs will open by default when you re-open your browser. This keeps these frequently used tabs always in the same spot for easy access. They automatically load up when you start Firefox just like they were applications.

As always if you need more help or you have tool bars and or software taking over your browser experience 12 Stones Tech can help get you back to normal.  For help call 913-893-1123



Zero Day Exploits

Zero Day Exploits

What is a Zero Day Exploit?

Simply put a zero day exploit is a software vulnerability that is found by hackers before the software creator.  They can be the worst kind of security hole as they can be exploited until the software creator is made aware and can fix the problem.

Two On The Same Day

This morning I have run across two articles about zero day exploits and the patches that are available.  The first is a security flaw in Microsoft Internet Explorer.  There is temporary fix for this available from Microsoft until they can get a permanent patch distributed.  When available the patch will be pushed out through the normal update channels for Microsoft software.

The second zero day exploit and fix I ran across is Adobe Flash.  They have a technical bulletin out describing which versions are vulnerable and which are not.   This is the Detail from that bulletin:

Adobe has released security updates for Adobe Flash Player and earlier versions for Windows and Macintosh and Adobe Flash Player and earlier versions for Linux. These updates address vulnerabilities that could potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system. Adobe is aware of reports that an exploit for CVE-2014-0502 exists in the wild, and recommends users update their product installations to the latest versions:

Update Your Software

I work with many people on their computers.   One of the comments that I cringe at is “That update window keeps popping up and I just close it.”  Most legitimate software vendors out there provide a mechanism to update the software they create.  The reason they do is not only for improvements but also to patch vulnerabilities.  When a software program you have pops up and says there is a update would you like to install it you should do so.  Software producers are not doing this to pester you, they don’t want to be responsible for a breach of your computer.

Why are there so many updates

Most software we use is very complex as are the computers and operating systems we use.  Our computers unlike 20 years ago that occasionally got online are on all the time.  Surfing the web is commonplace and because of that attacks are primarily going to come from the web.  Software creators try to create a good usable and secure program that you can use for some purpose.  There are people out there that are constantly looking for holes in software to gain access to computers.  You may be one who says I don’t have anything on my computer of any importance so if someone gained access it would be no big deal.  You may not have anything to steal but with the right exploit a hacker could commandeer your computer for their own purposes.  They could use it for sending out spam, which will end up getting you in trouble with your
and probably blacklisted so you can’t send out your own email.  They could use it to host websites of all sorts including for illegal activities.  Which will of course get your into trouble with law enforcement at some level.  They could just use it as a bot in a bonnet for attacking other computers.  There are many reasons and none of them do you want to be a part of.

So the more software titles you use the more you will need to keep updated.  Some occur automatically others require you to do some action.  Take a few minutes and get them done.  As always if you need help with any of these issues I am available to assist.

Personalize Your Chrome Browser Settings


A Few Simple Settings To Personalize Chrome


Personalization Begins Here

Chrome menu button All settings in Chrome are accessed by clicking the button in the upper right hand corner with the three horizontal lines.
Chrome Main Menu When the menu pops up scroll down to the settings line and click.

  Default Pages to Load

 Chrome Settings

Chrome Settings
The “On startup” area controls what tabs are opened when a browser is launched.  If the “Open the New Tab Page” is selected a default page with options of what to load is shown.  The second option is the one I prefer and it loads all tabs that were open when the browser was closed.  So if you keep a lot of tabs open for different things you are working on and you have to restart the browser, all your tabs come back.  One exception is if you are using incognito mode.  Then anything you had open is gone when the browser is closed.  The last option “Open a specific page” does just that.  It allows you to choose one or more pages to load into tabs when the browser starts.
Chrome Start up pages If you click on the “Set pages” you are presented with the following dialogue where you can delete entries or add new ones.  This can be the place to come if your browser opens pages you don’t want on start-up.  For instance, search sites you never wanted but now pop up.  Some software that you load can hijack this entry and take you to sites you don’t want to use.  It’s usually a simple matter of deleting the entry you don’t want, and the unwanted tabs will stop.
Default Chrome Search settings Going back to the settings page the next area to understand is the Search.  All modern browsers will now let you type a search into the URL line and they will conduct the search.  This is the location that tells Chrome what search engine to use when you conduct that search.  This is also another location that gets hijacked by software.  You can click on the first button and pull down the list choosing what you want.
Search engine listing When you choose “Manage search engines,” then you get another window listing the default search engines.  You can make one of them the default or you can delete them from the list.  The “Other search engines” are just other sites that can be used for searching.  If you scroll down to the bottom of the “Other search engines” list you can add your own if you don’t see it already.  Most people just use Google, but if you have another site you would prefer to use you can easily change it here.

Pinned Browser Tabs

Pinning a tab With the availability of tabbed browsing and so many cloud services, the browser has become one of the most used programs on the computer.  We use many of these sites or pages like they were applications: email, calendars, Facebook, news, weather, cloud drive portals. I like that Firefox calls this feature an “app tab” but in Chrome it’s simply called “pinning a tab.”  If you visit the site you want to “pin” you simply right click on the tab, then click on the pin tab option.
Chrome showing pinned tab Once this is done the “pinned tab” will be moved to the left of all other tabs and shrunk down as well. These pinned tabs will open by default when you re-open your browser. This keeps these frequently used tabs always in the same spot for easy access. They automatically load up when you start Chrome just like they were applications.