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The Costs of Ransomware

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Businesses, beware! Ransomware attacks have developed through the years, with attackers implementing more covert and advanced techniques, while at the same time learning from the mistakes in implementation that occurred in earlier generations of attacks. Moreover, a number of attacks have become more devious with a new component that involves data leaks, which in turn makes companies vulnerable, as they are exposed to graver threats than traditional data loss that used to be the only threat posed by ransomware.

So, how has ransomware threatened so many institutions?  How has it evolved into a more threatening event? Are businesses ready and have they equipped themselves with the necessary tools to combat these attacks? Finally, can the government do anything about this, since there have been some government institutions that have been affected?

Not just business, but whole towns!

The trends that have been prevalent in 2019 indicate that not only will these attacks be more present, but they are likely to happen more. And this will not only affect businesses, but also entire towns. In fact, it has been reported that for every six towns in the state of Massachusetts, one is a victim of ransomware.

Many towns recovered their files from backups, but at least 10 handed over taxpayer money to hackers to unlock their data, records obtained by the NBC10 Boston Investigators show.

Inside the Bay State, a handful of attacks against cities and towns have garnered widespread attention, though the problem may be more prevalent than many imagine.

(Via: https://www.nbcboston.com/investigations/1-in-6-massachusetts-communities-hit-by-ransomware-attacks/2076600/)

 

The academe is not spared

Even higher institutions of learning have also fallen victim to cybercriminals peddling ransomware. Niagara University had to cancel classes on the second week of February as their computer system came under attack. The university’s IT personnel discovered on February 12 that ransomware attacked has caused some of its email servers to lockdown.

These attacks can be very serious, like the attack which crippled Erie County Medical Center recently. Some companies have been driven out of business because they can’t gain access to their own computer systems.

(Via: https://news.wbfo.org/post/niagara-university-recovering-ransomware-attack)

 

The new danger

What sets the new wave of ransomware cybercriminals apart from the older generations is that they have taken extortion to a new level by exposing data that they stole online and threatening whole batches of data if they do not get paid by the companies in exchange of unencrypting the data they got.

The Italian foods company Fratelli Beretta saw all the data exfiltrated from 53 systems (a total of 3GB) posted online by Maze. And more recent victims have had smaller dumps posted. Stockdale Radiology, a radiology clinic in Bakersfield, California, saw screenshots of affected systems and data from the clinic’s fax server posted—including patient data transmitted from another MRI clinic.

(Via: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2020/01/dozens-of-companies-have-data-dumped-online-by-ransomware-ring-seeking-leverage/)

 

Recovery comes with a price

Not only is being victimized by ransomware an …

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Samsung’s Updated Flip Phone Gets Teased in the Oscars

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The Oscars on February 9 was one for the books. For the first time in its award giving history, the Academy gave the Best Picture recognition to a movie that is not in the English language and produced outside the USA. Parasite, a South Korean film about a poor family trying to infiltrate the lives of a rich family also took home trophies for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film.

But then, that wasn’t all South Korea’s appearances during the televised (and streamed) ceremonies. During one of the commercial gaps, another South Korean brand claimed the spotlight, none other than phone maker Samsung. To tease its upcoming unboxing event, Unpacked 2020, to be held on the 10th in San Francisco, the phone giant showed off its next foldable phone to the delight of the TV viewers. Not to say that Samsung still doesn’t have foldable phones, as it already has. Looking back, their first release of the foldable phone in September last year, had people wax nostalgic, although a lot were still unimpressed with their fragility.  But whether you’re a Samsung-stan or not, the ad sure got a lot of people talking!

Did the ad show anything new?

From the 20-second ad, we saw the device’s homage to retro fashion. The clamshell clicks are there, but there also seems to be the addition of new things like the degree of opening that would allow for facetime-style chatting.

The ad shows the flip phones from all angles, opening and closing while the Comic Strip sounds of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot pop and crackle in the background.

(Via: https://techcrunch.com/2020/02/10/samsung-teases-videocalling-on-its-next-foldable-during-the-oscars/)

 

But wait… what was that?

So basically, the ad tried to make retro-chic again, and that for sure appeals to a lot of people on the lookout for a phone that brings them back to both the 1906s (Bardot and the quirky soundtrack allude to that) and the glorious 2000s when everybody had a clamshell phone. But then, eagle-eyed viewers of the commercial were able to spot a disclaimer.

One thing that became clearer though is what will happen to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip’s screens across the globe: They’re gonna get fucked up fast.

https://thenextweb.com/plugged/2020/02/10/samsung-galaxy-z-flip-phone-oscars-trailer-had-some-weird-small-print/)

 

One tall phone

Other than the ad, some pictures of the Galaxy Z Flip (yes, that’s what the phone is called) were also leaked and the first impressions centered on how long the model is and how there’s a crease in the center where the phone folds (pretty much the point of the second entry here).

Now, considering that plenty of renders and even a brief video claiming to be a hands-on with the Galaxy Z Flip have already surfaced, a few new pictures may not seem like much of a big deal. But they do appear to clear up a few rumors, including what a monster of a

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Ready to Go (Windows 10) Pro?

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When Windows 10 was released in the middle of 2015, it came out with three versions – Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro, and Windows Pro 10 for Workstations. Like previous Windows release, the public was quick to conclude that the Home version is, as its name implies, best for household use by the family. Individual contributors and office workers will benefit from the Pro release, and large working groups is the obvious target for the Pro 10 for Workstations.

But then, people that have been using the Pro version have been singing it praises, this despite the constant bugs to updates. So now, people who want more than what the Windows 10 Home provides and even those who still have Windows 7 (which has been de-supported in the middle of January 2020), ask, “Is updating to the Windows 10 Pro worth it?” and “What would the differences be between Windows 10 Home and pro?

 

Remote Desktop

Take note that all versions of Windows 10 can remotely connect to another Windows 10 PC. However, if you’re looking for remote access, only Windows 10 Pro has that. Staying with Windows 10 Home edition will not let you find settings to enable remote desktop connection, although you can connect to another PC, if that PC runs on Windows 10 Pro.

The Remote Desktop or RDP feature is disabled by default so you will need to enable it in the settings.

(Via: https://www.groovypost.com/howto/setup-use-remote-desktop-windows-10/)

 

Bitlocker

For those who prioritize their security and keep their data safe from possible intruders, it’s time to consider switching to Windows 10 Pro even with its extra cost. Also, for those who have gotten used to Filevault of MacOS’, the Bitlocker found in Windows 10 Pro is the most similar to that service you’re looking for.

BitLocker is the name given to the full disk encryption software that’s built into Windows. First introduced with Windows 7 Ultimate Edition, BitLocker is now available with the Pro editions of Windows 8 and Windows 10.

(Via: https://www.onmsft.com/how-to/getting-started-with-bitlocker-windows-10s-built-in-full-disk-encryption-tool)

Trusted and Secured Boot

Working in tandem Secure Boot and Trusted Boot aids in keeping your system away from malware and rootkits, allowing you full control of it. Trusted and Secured Boot, as their names suggest, works by checking each component of the startup process before it is loaded.

By working with Windows 10 device manufacturers, Microsoft hopes to make firmware security compromises, those that happen before Windows itself boots, a thing of the past.

(Via: https://www.forbes.com/sites/daveywinder/2019/10/25/windows-10-security-microsoft-announces-a-new-before-windows-boots-strategy/#2a5ff5056f26)

 

Hyper-V

Virtual machine fans, rejoice! Hyper-V on Windows 10 Pro allows you to run virtual machines on CPUs that support virtualization.

There are many reasons to use a virtual machine. In most cases, they are used to run software that does not work on your OS. Whether you’re using a Windows, Mac or Linux OS, a VM will remove its limitations. For

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Is Windows 10X a Threat to iPadOS?

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When the iPadOS was released in September 2019, a lot of people believed that this might already be the endgame for mobile operating systems. People were impressed with the iPadOS, claiming that it has made iPads that powerful to the point that iPad owners can already consider their Apple tablets as their main computer. The addition of new capabilities may have been overwhelming at first, but as the users got used to it, it only became a testament to how Apple has incorporated a lot of improvements to it, particularly in the areas of touch gestures and multitasking.

But then comes Microsoft with Windows 10X. Windows 10X is not really something new; it is a version of Windows 10X that is, as of February 2020, still a work in progress. This reengineering of Windows 10 has so far (at least according to those who have experienced it through an emulator for developers) resulted in a sleeker look and a system that is specifically catered for dual-screen devices, such as Microsoft’s own Surface Neo and Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold. And by the looks of it, Windows 10X may give iPadOS a run for its money.

 

What you see when you boot it up   

While Windows 10X is indeed a new “expression” of Windows X, you won’t necessarily get tiles and a taskbar when you open it just like what you see when you turn on a device running on Windows 10. What you’ll see is a Start menu that is centered and a thicker Taskbar, which feels like the dock on iPads.

Windows 10X is designed exclusively for foldable and dual-screen hardware, and Microsoft has customized it as a result. One of the biggest noticeable changes is the new Windows 10X Start menu. It no longer includes the animated Live Tiles found on Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows Phone, and it now includes a more simplified look.

(Via: https://www.theverge.com/2020/2/11/21132826/microsoft-windows-10x-features-dual-screen-foldable-hands-on-developers)

 

Multitasking gestures  

One of the current selling points of the iPadOS is making multitasking and its associated gestures easier for users. This is one area that Windows 10X also wants to also be recognized in, and so far, reviews on how multitasking can be done with it are promising.

Gestures for multitasking also exist, where you swipe up from the bottom of the display to access the Start menu or list of running apps on the taskbar. You can also access an updated Action Centre from the taskbar that includes quick access to settings like volume, brightness, Bluetooth, rotation lock, and more.

(Via: https://www.criticalhit.net/technology/emulators-give-a-glimpse-of-what-windows-10x-will-be-like/)

 

Notifications

Microsoft has reportedly made controls and notifications look better by not making it as heavy as what is currently seen on Windows 10. Although there’s been an improvement in its looks for Windows 10X, the iPadOS may still be better in not letting controls and notifications be too distracting and allowing …

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Free Yourself From AirPod Woes

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Do you still remember the time when everybody made fun of AirPods as early as when Apple teased it in late 2016? One of the most scathing and funny commentaries about it was Saturday Night Live’s little skit about it, when it ridiculed the way Apple promoted these cordless earphones as the best device to jam to your favorite songs. How are you supposed to dance and jump to your heart’s content when they will most likely fall out from you ear with all the movement?

Fast forward to three years, AirPods and wireless earbuds have become almost ubiquitous as their wired counterparts. Everyone suddenly wants the convenience of listening to music from your smartphone without being bothered by cords getting in your way. Somehow, no one seems to be laughing at how popular AirPods are, that people want to own one despite their steep price tag. But then, as the technology is still relatively new, there are still problems users must deal with when enjoying wireless earbuds. What are these problems and are there fixes to them already?

The most common problem: Lost AirPods

They may not be directly related to the device itself, but then users would consider misplaced earbuds the most common problem they encounter. May it be because of an earbud popping out of the user’s ear while in use (which is actually not as common as a lot of people might think) or because it rolled over from where the user placed it last, there are a good number of solutions.

Your iPhone will show you the last known location where they connected to your iPhone, right on a map. This will let you know if you accidentally left them at work or if they’re still cruising around in an Uber you rode in.

(Via: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/17/how-to-find-lost-airpods-and-make-them-ring-if-theyre-hiding.html)

 

Problem pairing?

Another common problem AirPod users experience is difficulty connecting the device to your iPad, iPhone, or other Mac devices. Experts advice putting them back in the charging case, let it stay there for ten seconds, then try using them again. If that doesn’t work, look deeper.

If you’ve never connected these AirPods to your iPhone or iPad before, make sure that the devices meet the minimum system requirements. If you have first generation AirPods, your iOS device must be running iOS 10 or later; for the second generation AirPods, you need at least iOS 12.2.

(Via: https://www.businessinsider.com/why-wont-my-airpods-connect)

 

Uneven connection

Another issue that’s common among AirPod users is an uneven connection. The left side may play the music while you can’t hear anything on the right. As with the pairing problem, it is advised that you put both in the charging case and try them after 10 seconds.

There is no one definite cause but there is one definite suspect and that’s Bluetooth. We might suspect this anyway because Bluetooth is startlingly wobbly, but

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The Case of Bad Love: Getting Scammed on Romance

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With thousands (if not millions) of people getting into the digital and online economy every single day, it is not surprising to see the rise in cybercrimes as well. Scams, frauds, and hacks have victimized internet users by the thousands every year, making everyone susceptible, even those who don’t consider themselves as risky.

There are victims of extortion, where cybercriminals take money or other material objects from their victims who they have coerced. Extortionists online can employ methods such as ransomware, bomb threats, and even sextortion conditions.

There are also victims of phishing scams that have not only taken the form of emails but also SMS and instant messages. The scammers usually pretend to be established and legitimate business and persuade customers to make their account information updated. Of course, when updates are done, personal information is provided.

Finally, there is a rise in what has been termed as love scams. In these online dating scenarios, virtual relationships blossom between a fraudster and the unsuspecting victim. Armed only with a fake profile on one or more dating sites, these scammers earn their victims’ trust and before they know it, the latter would already get swindled to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. Let’s look deeper into this and see if there are any solutions.

 

How do romance scams begin?

Here’s the deal: According to the Better Business Bureau, victims of online romance scams in the US and Canada have lost more than $1 billion. What’s worse, because of embarrassment and other personal reasons, victims tend to not report these scams. As a result, cybercriminals get more emboldened, gathering more victims who they scam hundreds of dollars until everything piles up and they end up getting thousands.

Romance scammers use dating websites, apps, Facebook, and other social media. Many use stolen credit cards to join the sites and post fake profiles. They meet victims, interact with them, and quickly try to get them to move to a different form communication such as email or texting. This way, if the dating site identifies the scammer as being bogus and shuts them down, they are already in contact with their victims elsewhere. The scammers will often make fake Facebook pages for their aliases to help bolster their fake identity.

(Via: https://www.augustachronicle.com/news/20200219/bbb-beware-of-online-romance-scams)

 

Are senior citizens at the most risk?

Here’s an extreme case: an elderly (80 years old, to be exact) widower in Oregon lost $200,000 to an online romance scam. That’s how grave these situations can go.

The elaborate con job started with an unidentified person stealing a Florida’s woman identity, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation said in a statement. The scammer then used the stolen identity to befriend the 80-year-old widower through an online dating service, and worked to steal his heart and his money.

(Via: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/02/14/us/happy-valentines-dont-fall-for-romance-scams-trnd/index.html)

 

How romance scammers work

So, how do …

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Take Advantage of User Profiles

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With how our internet lives almost depend on it, we may think we already know all there is to know about our web browser. However, there’s one feature of it that gets pretty much ignored, if not taken for granted. You know what user profiles are, but chances are high you overlook this feature, not giving it the time of day and not utilizing it to its full potential. The thing is, most browsers, whether you’re using Chrome, Firefox, Opera, or Edge, allow multiple user profiles that can make your web browsing experience all the more enjoyable. Once you get the hang of using user profiles, you will wonder why you didn’t use it before.

As the name implies, user profiles allow separate browser profiles for different users, exactly like how you can have different user accounts when you log into Windows. The difference is that this is working at the browser level, so there’s no need to log in and out of the user accounts set up on your OS. What profiles do is that they separate the stuff different users collect as they use the browser to surf the web. This information includes saved passwords, browsing history, installed extensions, and bookmarks, among other things. This allows you and whoever may user your laptop separate browsing experiences. Take note though, that user profile switching in browsers can be done easily, so having a separate user profile is not a guarantee of your browsing life’s privacy.

What’s more, you as a user can have multiple user profiles. You can have a work profile and personal profile, which lets you keep your two worlds separate. When you serve for leisure using your personal profile, for example, you won’t be bothered with anything work-related like bookmarks and suggestions.

On Chrome

Chrome is the most popular web browser in the world currently, but not a lot of its users take advantage of creating their user profiles. What’s great about doing this on Google is that you can actually have not just one, but multiple user profiles.

If you use Google Chrome as your main browser, you probably didn’t know it, but you can create multiple profiles. You may want to do this to share your device with other people without the need to create a new Windows 10 account.

Also, the ability to use multiple profiles can come in handy if you have more than one account, and you want to keep your things (such as work and personal) separate.

(Via: https://pureinfotech.com/add-new-user-profiles-google-chrome/)

 

On Microsoft Edge

The new updates of Microsoft Edge have continuously excited netizens, thanks to its newly introduced Chromium engine. With the change comes convenience, as it is now way easier to use a new user profile in Microsoft Edge, with process comparable to that of Google Chrome’s. But of course, you will need to have the new Edge …

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Don’t Be Scammed on Your Phone

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Phones these days are ubiquitous to the point that our lives are quite tied to them. Our phone has our social media accounts, which means our social network is with then, as well as online banking, shopping, and delivery, which means our addresses and places of work are in our phones as well. This is why keeping our phones and the information they hold secure and safe is of utmost importance.

However, we cannot stop unscrupulous people from trying to victimize unsuspecting phone users. By hacking into your phone, they get your information as you may end up swiped of all your money, not to mention your identity may also be duplicated. So, without further ado, here are the common scams on your phone and ways you may stop them.

 

Phones can also be “phished”

We usually associate the term “phishing” with email, but crafty cybercriminals have expanded their activities to include instant messaging and SMS, too. In other words, various electronic communication methods can also victimize you on your phone, and before you know it, a stranger can access your device.

Security researchers have discovered a phishing campaign that specifically targets users of Android devices, which could result in compromise if unsigned Android applications are permitted on the device.

The campaign seeks to deliver Anubis, a malware that was originally used for cyber-espionage, now retooled as a banking trojan. Anubis can completely hijack an Android mobile device, steal data, record phone calls, and even hold the device to ransom by encrypting the victim’s personal files, said a blog post by researchers at Cofense.

(Via: https://www.scmagazineuk.com/phishing-attack-infects-android-phones-anubis-infostealer/article/1673350)

 

More on “smishing”

In fact, there is already a word specifically for smartphone phishing – smishing. Recipients do not get a scam email, but instead a scammy text message on your smartphone. In a new wave of smishing scams, text messages allegedly from FedEx contains a tracking code with a link that allegedly lets you “set delivery preferences.”

If you tap that link on your phone (and you shouldn’t), you’ll end up on a fake Amazon site (a phishing site) with a fraudulent “free reward.” The site will request your credit card information for “shipping fees.” If you provide payment details, you’ll be billed $98.95 every month.

(Via: https://www.howtogeek.com/526115/what-is-smishing-and-how-do-you-protect-yourself/)

 

Smartphone fake calls

Of course, instead of messages, there are some scammers that result in good ol’ call. What sounds like a legitimate call can turn out to be a scam with you already giving away sensitive information. Also, there have been an increase in the number of scammers posing as FBI or government agents trying to extract information from unsuspecting people who answer their calls.

But, anyone can fake or spoof a number and make it show up on your smartphone. If you let the call go to voicemail, when you listen, you will know it is a fake

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How to Clean Up Your Cookies in 4 Browsers +1

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Cookies can be a good thing when you’re talking about satisfying your sweet tooth. But for our online lives, it can be both a good and bad thing. Cookies in internet-speak happen when web browsers write these short text files containing information about your interaction about specific sites. Your log-ins, usernames, and things you may have purchased on retail websites would be included in these cookies. Having cookies is supposed to make your web surfing life more convenient as they make loading times for websites you frequent faster. Moreover, you don’t have to keep on typing in your information every time you try to log in a site, as the cookies have your information ready.

Quite harmless, right? But then, these cookies tend to accumulate, taking up space on your system. Moreover, with the current situation of heightened privacy and security concerns, cookies aren’t particularly the poster kids of web safety. Advertisers have access to these cookies, which is why you may notice the same things you look for on the internet get advertised to you on your social media and email accounts. Thus, removing them on a schedule is recommended.

If you’re the type of web user who is security conscious, then we have something for you: Steps on clearing your cookies depending on the web browser you’re using.

Google Chrome

The most popular web browser makes it easy for you to delete cookies, control the data that comes out when you are browsing data, and point out which files are accepted or should be blocked. However, take note that Google will be doing away with cookies in two years.

Like other browsers, Google Chrome tracks your history — but you can easily clear that history.

You can clear your browsing history in Google Chrome in just a few simple steps by accessing the “History” menu. You can choose to delete your history from the last hour, day, week, or month. You can also clear all of your history since you started using Google Chrome.

(Via: https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-clear-history-on-google-chrome)

 

Mozilla Firefox

The browser more known for its add-ons, the open-source browser Firefox is one of, if not the most, customizable web browsers when it comes to privacy settings.

The open-source browser has tons of add-ons and actually offers more options than Chrome when it comes to customizing these settings. Here’s what you need to know to clear the cookies it stores.

Visit any web page and click on the Cookie Quick Manager button on the Firefox toolbar to view the add-on’s menu; it displays six options. The first one is Manage All Cookies which opens the manager dashboard in a new tab in the browser. The dashboard lists each and every cookie that has been stored by your browser. Use the search bar to quickly find a particular website’s cookie to manage it.

(Via: https://www.ghacks.net/2020/01/18/cookie-quick-manager-is-a-firefox-extension-that-lets-you-search-delete-protect-site-specific-cookies/)

 

Safari

In …

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What Browser Will Go Well With Windows 10?

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The internet browser is one piece of software that is so commonly used but also oftentimes overlooked and underappreciated. Whether we spend most of our lives online checking our social media accounts or trying to see what’s the best steals on Amazon, or passing the time by getting into a YouTube rabbit hole of cat videos, we heavily rely on a trusty browser to give us what we need. But then, choosing one to stick to can be difficult, as there is quite a number that goes well with the latest version of Windows 10.

But then, with our needs of browsing through various websites ably performed by most if not all web browsers available today, what should set the wheat apart from the proverbial chaff? The name of the web browser game these days has shifted to other factors such as user security, user privacy, functionality, and customization. That is why we have come up with this list – to make sure you have the right browser to what you prioritize as most important to your web surfing experience.

UR Browser

The UR Browser was, like most web browsers available these days, developed based on the Chromium open-source project. But then, it sets itself apart from being just another version of Chrome as it offers the user various built-in tools, with strengthened safety and privacy features for the user. With so many users putting a lot of importance in the security and privacy of their online lives, UR Browser answers that need very well, along with its other benefits such as reliability and intuitiveness.

What is UR Browser, you may ask? The simple answer is that UR Browser is a cross-platform web navigator or web browser based on Chromium and created by AdaptiveBee, with security, privacy and friendly user interface in mind.

Another way to look at it is that UR Browser is more than a simple navigator. It won’t just help you browse the web seamlessly.

(Via: https://windowsreport.com/ur-browser-review/)

 

Google Chrome

Who doesn’t know Google Chrome? Who hasn’t used it even just once in their online existence? It’s currently the undisputed leader when it comes to the number of users and how they have grown so accustomed to using it. Since Chrome is preinstalled on smartphones and Android is still stronger compared to iOS in terms of user numbers, it’s no doubt that it has become ubiquitous.

Google’s Chrome browser is the most popular browser in the world, but it’s also notorious for gobbling up RAM and battery life faster than market share – but it looks like Microsoft has found a way to reduce its battery consumption – on Windows 10 devices, at least.

(Via: https://www.techradar.com/news/chrome-may-soon-be-less-of-a-battery-guzzler-in-windows-10-thanks-to-microsoft)

 

Mozilla Firefox

Through its existence, Firefox has often been considered the best and most valuable alternative to Google Chrome. Its reputation has been solid in terms of its …

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