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General discussion

Firefox not as safe?

Dec 7, 2005 5:58AM PST

I began using Firefox , being sick of IE security holes, however, I have run into more spyware, tracking cookies, far with firefox than with IE. This seriously makes me question Firefox's integrity also. Every time I use Firefox, I get the minibug. I also had 49 other infections. As soon as I quit using it, and go back to IE, I get some basic cookies but no actual spyware. I run Ewido to check and have been comparing the two. This is really upsetting to me, was looking forward to the new Firefox and so far has caused me grief. I am currently on IE right now and have been for 4 days and i am going to run a scan to see what happens.
I do have all the firewalls, spyware etc...(just for the record). Any thougts on this?

Discussion is locked

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EWIDO is very good.
Dec 7, 2005 6:07AM PST
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Cookies not a problem
Dec 7, 2005 10:58AM PST

Hi Bob. The cookies aren't a problem and I usually clear those out myself before running a spyware utility. After they were already cleared, in HKEY LOCAL, I had MINIBUG and 48 others, I chose to take the same action (in Ewido) as with minibug so didn't get the names and was only concerned if they couldn't be removed. I didn't get to look at the view report, baby woke up so I just shut it down. I am going to re-run FF for a few days to see what I get. The only sites even gone to are Ebay, Cnet, and a few others, and stay away from the iffy sites. I don't like IE, but to be honest, the biggest threat iv'e had with IE is Dataminer which is a cookie anyway, no big deal there.

Thanks, Paul

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Let see if you took the next steps.
Dec 7, 2005 8:53PM PST

1. You posted your HIJACKTHIS log on a HJT forum.

2. You reported the security issue on the Mozilla or Firefox bug site.

Many won't take the next step, but I note it so you know what's next.


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Found it out...
Dec 8, 2005 8:17PM PST

Well, found COMETSYSTEM.exe, minibug.exe...
Seems this is from the add ons. Cometsys was putting a pop up saying I needed to install flash 8 to veiw a page, typical for most browsers if you need the latest, however, you can't view it if you don't click on it, and it installs the spyware, not flash8. This led to the other spywares on the pc. Checked through the site, the only option is not to have the add on as of right now. Being new to FX , it seems will take some getting used to. Minibug has been gone since rid of the add on. Just cookies, nothing else. "Stumble upon" seems to be the culprit add on. I do not use weather bug and never will. I do have the FX weather add on but no bugs or spyware so far. This is a big relief since I hate IE.
My wife won't use FX, she said she can't get used to it. So, I changed the FX icon to IE, renamed it explorer, and she has been using it. I think she knows....Happy
Thanks for the help from all.

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MiniBug = Weatherbug
Dec 8, 2005 9:24PM PST

If you remove Weatherbug, MiniBug should go away. I've never had a problem uninstalling it. This program will show also with IE. For Firefox, use ForecastFox instead; it will popup ads as you navigate the weather site, but Adblock takes care of those.

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Dec 9, 2005 12:25AM PST

I enjoy using WeatherBug. I too had the problem with minibug.exe but when I bought a subscription and upgraded to WeatherBug-Plus, minibug.exe went away. Never saw it again.

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Dec 10, 2005 6:31AM PST

I have been a Firefox user since it was called Phoenix and I have never heard of Weatherbug. So I googled it and found it's website. The Weatherbug website makes NO reference to Firefox. I also searched the FF extension and theme website and could not find 1 reference to Weatherbug.
What the heck do they mean by add-on? How is that Firefox's fault if they download Weatherbug(which is a totally different program) and install it on their machine.
People are saying to watch out for which kind of websites you go to, well I do go to the bad websites, yes I admit it, but I never have a problem with something installing without my permission.
Can you tell me or can anyone point me to a page that says it will give me a Firefox add-on called Weatherbug.

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Your research is good.
Dec 10, 2005 7:35AM PST

You've got the issue down pat and I don't get why the claim was made either.


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By the way,
Dec 10, 2005 1:24PM PST

I forgot to mention before with all the garbage being thrown, I did in fact send a copy of the spyware\hij\virus scan to FX team and so far it may be a false Flash update perhaps using an extension to exploit spyware. Don't know for sure yet, so before I get burned at the stake on here, just thought i'd let you know, and thanks again for the help.

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Dec 10, 2005 4:42PM PST

Why you keep calling Weatherbug a Firefox add-on or even what an add-on is? Where can I download this add-on you talk about?

so far it may be a false Flash update perhaps using an extension to exploit spyware

What is a false Flash update, and which extension do you speak of.

Firefox does not install anything on your machine unless you tell it to. If you click yes to install something how is Firefox or even Internet Explorer to stop you? How do you know that Firefox had anything at all to do with this? Give me a webpage that will do this to me, or a webpage that has the add-on you speak of, ANYTHING, with even a real glimps of what you are talking about.

Being new to FX , it seems will take some getting used to. Minibug has been gone since rid of the add on.

Which add-on do you speak of?

Cometsys was putting a pop up saying I needed to install flash 8 to veiw a page

How do you know ''Cometsys'' was doing this?
Is Cometsys a program, where do you download it from? Maybe it's a website? Could you give me the url?
Never install flash from anywhere but the Macromedia website.

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I'm with you...
Dec 10, 2005 1:20PM PST

I never used weather bug (never trusted it) even aside from Firefox and I haven't even seen weather bug on the site. My problem is being looked into by the FX team and I think some referenced minibug with weatherbug, this goes to show how well they read my post. Minibug was a spyware not weather for a desktop. I don't download anything I don't trust or know is not trusted by others. So, still can't completely figure out what happened.

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It ain't exactly the browser
Dec 8, 2005 5:50PM PST

Do you run "Weatherbug" on your system. Minibug is adware included in Weatherbug. I used Weatherbug for about 5 minutes before I discovered this and immediately removed it and minibug and have never used it again.

Also, depending on your browser settings, yes you will see differences in the amount of pop ups, adware, spyware, etc.

I would suggest you go thru the help document on Firefox and set it to the highest level of protection that will satisfy your functionality for browsing the internet.

Also, check all you settings in you firewall.....they may be set too low.

Even if you get some junk on your system, as we all do, I would suggest, unless there is a huge slow down or big problem, establishing a weekly cleaning schedule.

Write down a list of things to do, such as first get all available updates to all your programs, including and especially, your anti-virus and spyware checkers.

Disable your connection to the internet.

Then shut down all un-needed programs such as your firewall , anti-virus program, Weatherbug (if there), etc. They are not needed as you are not connected to anything.

Then start your scans for viruses and spyware/adware. Quarinten and delete them if any are found.

Then use a file cleaner program to search for and remove any unused, obsolete, temp files.

Then use a registry cleaner program to check for errors, unsused or obsolete registry entries and correct them. Be careful here as you need to review what the cleaner finds and what you want done with it.

After you are satisfied with your cleaning process, then run a registry compactor, and a disk defragger.

Re-enable your internet connection and reboot your system immediately. This step is essential as you have not re-started your firewall or anti-virus protection.

Your system should be running just a bit better now.

Also, one last thing you can do....get rid of Weather bug. There are many sites that will detail instructions on how to get rid of it and it's minibug adware. Check em out.

I know this is only some basics, and could probably be improved upon, but I hope it helps you.

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Thank you..
Dec 8, 2005 11:59PM PST

Thanks for the reply. I have to say, I am normally more advanced with things of this nature but I ran across this problem in FX and it was getting the best of me. I posted here also to share what happens in case someone else may have this problem. I am a "new FX user" and ended up with a bad add on. So I have been tweaking and enjoying ever since this has been solved. I think a farewell to IE is in order, well until Win updates anyway. As I said, this was new to me and did make me question FX when couldn't find an answer. I do appreciate your feedback on this though, and you take care.

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Dec 9, 2005 1:25AM PST

I enjoy using WeatherBug. I too had the problem of minibug.exe but I resolved it by purchasing a subscription and upgrading to WeatherBug-Plus. Buying the subscription opened up a lot more features. No more minibug. Never saw it again.

If you want something for free, it's still going to cost you something. In this case, using the free version is going to cost you the time it takes to disable the minibug ad-ware.

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Cost me what?
Dec 9, 2005 2:20AM PST

free software, no spyware:
kerio personal firewall
avg virusscan
foobar2000 (audio player)
mozilla firefox
Trillian (non-pro)
core media player
Exact Audio Copy (CD ripper)
. . .

The list goes on. There are free plugins for programs like firefox that display weather. The only functionality not provided that comes with weatherbug is probably pretty graphics. By paying to not have spyware in a program, you're only supporting those that include spyware in programs. Their scheme worked; they included crap in the free version and got you to pay money just for the privilidge of not having ads spewed up on your screen.

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Weather bug..
Dec 9, 2005 5:15AM PST

I do agree that some free stuff comes at a cost. The thing is, I never use weather bug and didn't on FX either. I still got the minibug somehow. I use accuweather desktop instead, it has adds on the weather page but not spyware.


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Use Forecastfox Instead
Dec 9, 2005 1:55AM PST

Forget Weatherbug. That minibug demonstrates the exact opposite of the hot air put out by Weatherbug.

I use the Forecastfox extension instead. It is easier on your Internet connection and processing power. No adware included.

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I just wanted to add...
Dec 9, 2005 4:29PM PST

I like to delete my cookies before running scans. I think it makes it easier to determine at quick glance if there is a real problem.

I use Firefox just set on default settings and haven't had any problems. (I don't have any plug-ins though.)
I do use Webroot Spysweeper though, and it gives alerts saying it's blocking cookies and the like.

Anyway; just one question, Winmpy6: No offense, but why re-enable the internet connection THEN reboot. Why not reboot first? (I once got attacked immediately after re-enabling my connection which really surprised me!)--- I start getting paranoid now when my pc is booting and all the systray icons are coming up and my firewall/AV icon comes up last --- just wanted to share that!

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Firefox is more forthcoming
Dec 8, 2005 8:14PM PST

Your spyware, adware, virus's are still there whether you are running Firefox or MS Explorer. MS just doesn't tell you about all of them like Firefox does.

Many freebie "safe" downloads really aren't as they are embeded with things you don't want. One of the responses was about "Weatherbug" which is a classic example of a manufactured company virus. That program runs so much extra trash it brought my little 166 Mhz computer to a crawl. I removed it via the removal program but bits and pieces of it was left running in stealth mode on my computer. I had to manually go in and pull out the residual programs to get rid of all the virus it left behind. I call it virus because it had all the earmarks of a virus. Hid unwelcome programs, ran in stealth, did things without my chosing, and wouldn't leave when asked.

To get back to your problem, Firefox isn't for the masses yet. Many people want to know nothing except it works. Too much data boggles the mind. Unlike MS Explorer, Firefox gives a lot of control to the end user.

Think of it like a car. Some cars have gauges and a manual transmission. The driver has to pull the choke to get it started, set the dash throttle to keep it running, use the clutch to shift while ballancing the perfect gas with the accelerator to start. That person is an operator. He is totally controlling the vehicle.

Most cars have idiot lights, automatic chokes, transmissions, etc. The driver gets in and turns the ignition key. It either starts or it doesn't. If it starts he (she) puts it in drive and steers the vehicle to where he wants to go. If it doesn't start he is lost and has no idea what to do. He is a driver not an operator.

MS Explorer is that last car. There isn't a whole lot one can do to tweak it. Load it and run it.

Firefox is the first car. Tweak the heck out of it if one understands how and the experience is total control. The understanding is there in the Firefox website and Firefox blogs and Help sections.

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Very Good Info
Dec 8, 2005 10:50PM PST

You posted a very good analogy of the differences between the programs. Firefox comes in a very basic form, a plain, simple, safe browser with some neat features. The "plain" is a two-faced sword though. Plain is safe, but ... As it is plain, a lot of people will go looking for and grabbing the add-ons to dress it up and give them more functionality. Being open source code, these very add-ons are the biggest problem with firefox. Some of them can do some pretty nasty stuff, and the average user, or even the advanced user, would not know until it is too late which are safe and which not. My work partner loves firefox, he doesn't mind the occasional digging to resolve a problem caused by one add-on or another. I resolve enough software problems as it is in our support staff positions and prefer relaxing with IE on my own system. Happy

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Dec 8, 2005 11:52PM PST

You make a very good point about even an advanced user with the add ons. I noticed that some replies here immediately assume I am some newbie who never has had a browser, never knew about spyware etc...I looked up a highly rated add on, read about it, didn't seem bad, no problems associated with it. I installed it, almost immediately after installing FX. I started getting all sorts of weird behavior within a day. Now, initially when you read about FX, it talks about how safe it is, fine. Suddenly you end up with a ton of spyware, can't find what might be causing it, tweaked all my settings, etc...Finally I came across someone who posted this in a forum, same problem, solved. It was the add on. Now, I had to question FX, since i couldn't at the time find any such thing for my "specific" problem. AS you said about your work partner, now that I know , I won't mind digging into the add ons myself.

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Dec 8, 2005 11:38PM PST

I see what you are getting at , don't get me wrong, but my problem wasn't from installing anything besides a supposed safe add on. I don't want to know JUST that it works, I do dig for answers but also share what may happen to me on CNET and opinions, since it may help others. I could not find my specific problem at first so had to wonder where it was coming from. When you mention spyware to many using FX, it seems they get "defensive", "Well it's free" "well, don't use it" "well go back to IE"....etc...
That was a major problem as far as asking for or finding advice.
I do not like IE but I am simply being honest, I haven't had all that much trouble with it as some say they have. (Does this mean I like it? no. Do i trust it? no. Do I WANT to use FX instead? yes.)
Your assumption, while well put for others, may apply with the whole car thing, but I have been tweaking, changing , installing and trying many things in FX but (if one can't find an answer to a problem, unless born with divine knowledge, has to ask.) It made me question FX's integrity as a browser. I didn't say it was a horrible browser, but I don't trust anything right away and like to ask if I don't know. And as I said, i mainly posted it here to see if anyone else had this problem or felt that way. I am not new to browsing, downloads, or anything of the sort. FX, yes. As I also posted, I found it, posted it, was happy about it.

Happy holidays Paul

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Firefox and firewalls
Dec 8, 2005 8:45PM PST

I have been using Firefox for over a year with no problems but have changed my firewall software due to some of the vendors do not keep up to date with current malware, try another vendor is my suggestion.

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Firefox safety
Dec 8, 2005 10:42PM PST

Hi. I just wanted to relay my experience, in case it helps. I've used Firefox and Thunderbird for about one year now, and consider it to be a superior browser. Under the Firefox "Tools", "Options,", "Privacy," "Cookies," I have the following settings:

"Allow sites to set cookies" is checked.
"for the originating web site only" is checked.
for "Keep Cookies," the option "Until I close
Firefox" is chosen.

I also run AVG Professional, Spybot S&D, Microsoft AntiSpyware (beta), CCleaner, and RegSeeker (only to find registry entries remaining from programs I've knowingly deleted).

I can honestly say that these programs consistently find my computer spotless. In fact, I believe it's been spotless for roughly a year -- the time I've been using Firefox. I've never had any major problem with viruses or various crudware, but now I have no problem whatsoever. And I go anywhere and everywhere on the web, almost every day, and at least skim through sites totally unknown to me. Still, no problem.

Maybe the settings I mentioned, and use of some of the other programs will help you out.

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wish that were so..
Dec 8, 2005 11:05PM PST

I do run adaware, ewido, Zonealarm, spywareblaster, Ccleaner, Privacymantra, etc...My problems were not from cookies however. I typically don't even worry about cookies since I rid myself of them almost after every browsing. It was the add on that gave me the problem. In IE, typically when a site tells you, you need flash upgrade, it has been fairly on, and I have not been steered wrong. However in FX, it was spyware from an ad on that would pop this up and say I needed the flash update. This is not an uncommon occurance so I didn't think too badly of it. Well, as a new FX user, simply put, I am learning. I do not like IE and am glad that FX is out there. Without the add on , no problems as of yet.


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Dec 8, 2005 10:56PM PST

I forgot to mention that I also defrag the hard drive and the registry on a regular basis: once or twice a week.

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You get what you don't prepare for
Dec 8, 2005 11:01PM PST

"I do have all the firewalls, spyware, and so forth (just for the record)."
Any thoughts on this?

Unless you just simply don't access the internet, you have no need for the above software. You could use your computer for a door stop, for instance.

But seriously... the security software is cheap or free.
GET THEM INSTALLED ON YOUR MACHINE!!! No matter what OS or browser you are using!!

Other that that, I commend you for your exempliary faith in mankind and extreme optimism.


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If you read....
Dec 8, 2005 11:08PM PST

No offense but if you read the post correctly, you would have seen that I am.

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firefox security
Dec 8, 2005 11:27PM PST

In IE you have a lot of control of security but there is none in Firefox, and I mean NONE! One time only...I decided to use Firefox for a few hours to see how well it worked. Well, during that time it allowed a screen scraper program on my computer which proceeded to wipe out all my pictures. After I found and took care of that problem, I went back to the same sites with IE...that prog. never got back on my computer. So if you're afraid of IE vulnerabilities, you'd better realize that Firefox is a hell of lot more vulnerable than IE. After that experience, I'm sticking to IE thanks!!

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Using Firefox? Get
Dec 8, 2005 11:54PM PST

NoScript is a great little download available for Firefox which makes it difficult, if not impossible to download ActiveX scripts WITHOUT your permission.

FYI, unpermissioned Active X download & installs are the major source of bugs getting into your system.