Some questions about IE 7, IE 8, Opera

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by Fly, Oct 19, 2009.

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  1. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    (System: Windows XP Home edition SP2, IE 7, non-English version, I don't have JAVA installed, I do use the latest version of Flash with restricted privacy settings)

    Currently I use IE 7. I have set the security settings for the internet zone to above average/normal. I have given the other three zones exactly the same settings. Not just 'above normal', since IE handles that differently for the other zones. I have copied the exact same settings for the internet zone to the other zones. I don't need any 'trusted websites'.

    Let's assume for the purpose of this discussion that I have set the handling of cookies to block direct cookies, block indirect cookies, box for session cookies unticked.

    I'm considering a change of browser, so I have a few questions. I'm particulary interested in the issue of privacy.

    Some time ago I had a problem, and someone suggested installing IE 8.
    I tried that as a fix, and I really didn't like it. The last thing I need is a browser that starts telling me how cool it is. o_O
    It didn't solve the problem so I quickly restored an image.

    Today I studied whether IE 8 would be an improvement.
    Especially regarding index.dat.

    A quote from http://www.forensicsblog.net/?p=49:
    'It’s true some records are not written to the index.dat history file, namely the host records. This results in the user seeing an empty history overview in the browser. However, all other records related to a visit to a specific website are written to the index.dat file. Keep in mind that most websites are built-up of tens of separate webpage elements, filling up the Index.dat file quickly.

    What’s worse, in contrary what Microsoft states, the temporary Internet files cache is used, files are written to disk but after closing the browser the cache is cleared/deleted. Not erased. Oopsss. Unless I use some sort of erase/wipe tool information on my browsing session is all there.'

    'all other records related to a visit to a specific website are written to the index.dat file'. I don't understand. Some records are written to index.dat ??
    And what are the other privacy implications ?

    I can clean index.dat with Ccleaner or other software.

    Let's not discuss Firefox please. :)

    About Opera: it has some good features.
    In http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera_Software it states that Opera receives its funding from Google. I don't trust Google.

    In http://www.downloadsquad.com/2008/07/06/opera-partners-with-ask-com/ it states that opera partners with ASK.COM (IAC !). In this article an expandable search bar is mentioned. Is this an ASK.COM toolbar, Google toolbar ? Does that search bar send any information to ASK.COM/IAC or Google ? Does Opera include a toolbar, opt-in or opt-out ?
    Is information ('anonymous' or not) being sent to ASK.COM/IAC or Google by any other means than a Google toolbar, ASK.COM toolbar, or the 'expandable search bar' ? Can the latter be removed ?

    And I consider the 'business model' to be important. I'm not sure what it is.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2009
  2. Fuzzfas

    Fuzzfas Registered Member

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    1) About what their relations are with google and what the funding is about, i don't know. I mean, if Opera is somehow spying on you and then reporting to google, this is something i am not in position to tell you. (probably nobody in here is).

    2) There is no third party toolbar installed. There is the search window (expandable search bar) available, which can use various search providers, many actually, including google and Ask. Ask is the default search engine in the speed dial page window if memory serves me. It's same search window you can find in FF, IE, etc. They use a string to make the search for the provider you selected, they don't install toolbars. Opera uses this http://www.google.com/search?q=%s&sourceid=opera&num=% etc

    However, you have the option to remove them from the search list:

    http://img197.imageshack.us/img197/9503/84411143.png

    As you can see, i have removed completely ASK and the rest of about 15 other search providers and set google as default. Basically you can set one search provider in the search window and another in speed dial's search window.

    Google's autocomplete feature, which AFAIK does report some things to google, can be disabled in Opera (i don't remember how, but i have it disabled. Maybe it's default setting too) and from the string it uses, AFAIK, it only tells google other than your words you searched , your opera version (sourceid=opera&num).

    Of course if you don't use google search, i don't think opera can report anything to google...

    If you have some other search engine that you trust more than google, you have the ability to remove google from the providers list and use the one you like or add your own search engine if it's not listed by default.

    I don't think you can "uninstall" the search bar, just like i don't think you can do that in IE or FF either... But you may not use it if you don't want to...

    I have not observed ever through the firewall any connection attempts to ASK (but of course i remove it from search provider list just in case) or google. I have seen connection towards google analytics, but this depends on the site you visit, it's not related to Opera. It's often used by websits to assess your connection speed and so it's used as service for websites.

    If you 're too suspicious about it, add google related addresses to your hosts file.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2009
  3. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    I'm not sure if I understand what the 'speed dial' is.

    Although I read about it, I forgot to mention it in my post.

    According to my 'research', 'speed dial' is something somewhat unique to Opera, and IE 7 doesn't have it.

    Fuzzfas, the way you describe it, it looks like what IE 7 does when you type an invalid webpage. My default search engine is Google (country version: google.X, not google.com) and when I type an invalid webpage Google will search for it.

    But the way it is described in articles about Opera, 'speed dial' is something different. Possibly sending information to ASK.COM/IAC.
    An example of a description of 'speed dial': http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2007/04/opera-releases-9-2-browser-adds-speed-dial.ars

    Btw, my home page (if that's the correct phrase, I refer to what I see when I open IE) is blanc.

    Does 'speed dial' send information to ASK.COM/IAC, and if you have selected a different search engine (if possible!), can you disable 'speed dial' ?
    Does 'speed dial' possibly send out unwanted data ?

    Thank you for any further information and clarification.
     
  4. Fuzzfas

    Fuzzfas Registered Member

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    There Speed dial, is like a way of launching rapidly your favourite websites in your browser, without having to go to your favourites list. Opera 10 supports up to 25 such icons, each of which represents a website. Speed dial, also has a search engine window , which is independent (if you choose so) from the main search window.


    To give you an idea:

    http://img35.imageshack.us/img35/6135/52389351.png
    http://img12.imageshack.us/img12/6858/62872132.png


    The top image, shows a small portion of my speeddial, with the icon that is Wilders. If you click on the icon, your browser will load Wilder's. Imagine more icons like this, up to 25. On top of the speed dial page, you can see that there is a search window. In my case, it's google. I think that by default it's ASK, but you can change that to the search engine of your pleasure. Personally i never use that search window. The speed dial is extremely cosy feature, probably the best in opera for me.

    The second image is the "normal" search window, which probably every browser has. I haven't used IE7, i use IE8 and has the search window too over there. The search provider over there can be set according to your preference too. That's the one that i use (i don't use the one from within the speed dial window).

    AFAIK, the speed dial doesn't send any info outside, it's simply like having your 25 most favourite websites in a "quick list". If you don't want to use it, you leave it blank...

    Probably there is an init file setting to disable completely the speed dial, but i see no reason to do so. It's like your favourites, only with icons. You can leave it blank and it's as if it was disabled... And yes, you can set your search engine for speed dial too.

    AFAIK, the google search bars in Opera don't do anything automatically. If i put a wrong address, i don't have google search for it. I have my ISP saying that it's invalid (i guess it depends on your ISP's settings). So, unless you type something yourself in the search fields and hit enter, the Opera search engine (at least google that i use) will leave you alone.
     
  5. Fuzzfas

    Fuzzfas Registered Member

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    BTW, the only "abnormal" communication i am aware of, is that Opera autochecks for updates.

    To never check for updates automatically, go to your operaprefs file (should be in your user profile, in AppData--Opera) and in the section [Auto Update] make sure you have:

    Auto Update State=0

    That should do it.

    EDIT: The same can be done through about:config.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2009
  6. Fuzzfas

    Fuzzfas Registered Member

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    This should give you peace of mind about the search engines:

    http://img29.imageshack.us/img29/1516/75084005.png

    It's pretty straightforward. Initially, there are many more search providers in the list, where i only have google. Including ASK. You remove it and bye bye. You can even "sabotage" the search engines that you don't want to remove by editing the search string and substituting it with a fake one...

    I think you will like Opera from a privacy point of view. You can delete all the history,cookies, pages, chache with 3 clicks. You can also set it to clear the cache automatically every time you close Opera and to delete all "new" cookies.
     
  7. the Tester

    the Tester Registered Member

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    I removed Ask as a search option in Opera 10 also. It's a lame search engine.
    I remember dumping Yahoo search for the same reason. I believe that was a default setting, probably on the Speed dial page.

    Never heard of Opera sending info to Ask thru Speed Dial.
     
  8. the Tester

    the Tester Registered Member

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    The difference being that Opera doesn't include the Ask toolbar in it's installer.
     
  9. Fuzzfas

    Fuzzfas Registered Member

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    Actually, it was the Ask toolbar integrated into products, with prechecked the installation. In Opera, you have a search string. In both cases, since i hate Ask, exactly about the ethical question, i am in favour of total removal of it and of other providers that i do not need.

    No, no AV scanner will "pick" anything, because it does not contain the search engine. It contains the search string. Instead of going to www. ask. com and putting your request, it autoperforms that for you. There is no 3rd party ASK software installed in Opera, this is why NOD for example detects ASK in other products, while in Opera it doesn't.

    Just like, Opera doesn't contain the "google toolbar" as one knows it as standalone software that you can add to IE for example. It contains the search string. (http://www.google.com/search?q=). If you click it, even if you don't have google toolbar installed, you will get to google search.
     
  10. Fuzzfas

    Fuzzfas Registered Member

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    I don't know which debate is that. Personally i avoid ASK like the plague, i don't blame anyone for not wanting the string either (i don't too).


    Yes, you can opt out the Ask toolbar too. The only difference being that many people don't watch the installers carefully (or don't even speak decent english) and they end up with installed 3rd party software.

    It's detected as potentially unwanted application:

    http://www.calendarofupdates.com/updates/uploads/monthly_10_2009/post-1-1255796476.png

    As for the rest of your question... For money? On the bright side, they don't take 5$ a pop for installing 3rd party software, they probably get paid a sum for putting the string (i think it's default in the speed dial search window). Probably for the same reason they 've put 10-15 more search strings in there. $$$.

    Although i must say that i don't consider Opera as security application. It's a browser. More secure than IE of course.

    P.S: ASK WAS directly associated with spyware-adware. It is not today. Then one must think if he has ethical problem with them or not. I sure have. They may be legitimate today, but i don't forget the way they got the $ to build their legit profile today.
     
  11. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    My 2 cents worth,,,,,I have used Opera for years and have found it to be excellent. Very customizable and intelligently designed. Also, one of the nice things about Opera is the extremely active and knowledgeable group of folks on the Opera forum. BTW I would suggest you ask some of these questions there,,,,especially about disabling various aspects of the program that you are uncomfortable with. My experience is that much of this sort of thing can be done and you will find someone on the forum with the knowledge of how to do it and the patience and willingness to help you accomplish what you want.

    Some Opera forums you may find of interest:

    Customizing Opera
    http://my.opera.com/community/forums/forum.dml?id=28

    Opera Widgets
    http://my.opera.com/community/forums/forum.dml?id=1296

    For a list of all Opera forums see http://my.opera.com/community/forums/
     
  12. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    My impression is that IE 8 compared to IE 7 (THE WAY I HAVE CONFIGURED IT, SEE MY FIRST POST) is not much safer or better at protecting the user's privacy.

    Quote from my first post: 'However, all other records related to a visit to a specific website are written to the index.dat file. Keep in mind that most websites are built-up of tens of separate webpage elements, filling up the Index.dat file quickly'

    I'm not sure what that means.

    So I don't think I'll be better off with IE 8, but feel free to prove me wrong.

    Then the choice is between Opera and IE 7. Currently I use IE 7.
    Comparison between Opera and IE 7 AS I CONFIGURED IT, see my first post.
    Opera may have a few extras, like a password manager. But I don't want to put all my eggs in one basket.
    Is Opera significantly better than IE 7 regarding privacy, anonymity and security, personal preferences aside ?

    Just a little extra: I use a router and the Avira security suite, non-default settings.
     
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