Last week, I was listening to a podcast called Security Now! (which you should check out by the way). Steve Gibson, the host, mentioned a recently discovered Windows vulnerability that has been present in the OS going back 10+ years. Needless to say this was a little concerning that a vulnerability could exist for so long without being noticed, much less patched.
Microsoft has since rolled out a patch that plugs the hole, but the question remains, “Should I be surfing the web in the same OS I use to manage my finances and other sensitive info?” I mean…seriously Microsoft, how many other holes are still out there waiting to be exploited. I feel like I am getting critical patch updates a couple times per month. That’s a little ridiculous.
One of the suggestions Gibson made for the super-paranoid (a.k.a. Me) was to handle routine web surfing via a Linux USB stick, only booting into Windows to use Windows applications and surf trusted sites. I’ve only had marginal experience with Linux, but I thought, what the heck I’ll give it a shot. Turns out…I love it. Next choice was to pick a flavor. Linux has about a gazillion, but I opted for Ubuntu 10.4. Ubuntu seems to be branding itself as Linux for people who are scared of Linux. It has a nice GUI, and isn’t intimidating at all.
I’ll be honest, before booting I half expected to see an old school DOS-esque command line pop up (I’m not scared of the command line, but people, it’s not 1995 anymore). However, it wasn’t like that at all. It is minimalism at its best which is perfect, since all I need is a secure way to browse the web without worrying some “haxor” is going to keylog my bank password. An additional benefit is I now have a secure way to surf the web from any public computer. Shut down, plug in the USB key, reboot, bingo-bango secure web browsing. So, now all my Apple friends can mock me and call me paranoid. In the meantime, I won’t be worrying about the next vulnerabilty.