Internet

Mozilla Firefox 29 review

Mozilla's latest browser, Firefox 29, features the new Australis design, which adjusts the user interface, modernizing the look of tabs, menu layout, and toolbar. However, the new design also brings the pain of change: Users will have to adapt to rearrangements of core features.

Pros

New design: Firefox's new design is a bit Chrome-like, presenting menu options as large icons, similar to Chrome apps. The tabs have been cleaned up and look curvier and sleeker. Subtle animations make the Firefox experience slightly more interactive. For example, bookmarking a site triggers an animation of a star dropping into the … Read more

Major security flaw in Internet Explorer opens PCs to hijacking

Update: On May 1, Microsoft released a fix for Internet Explorer -- all affected versions: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11. Surprisingly, that includes versions that run on Windows XP -- though Microsoft no longer supports XP, the severity of this security flaw prompted the company to patch XP-compatible versions. Your system should download the patch automatically; if it doesn't, enable automatic Windows Update.

This weekend Microsoft issued a security advisory for Internet Explorer, warning that hackers can exploit a vulnerability that lets them run commands on remote computers. In other words, hackers exploiting this flaw can hijack … Read more

Internet Download Manager review

Internet Download Manager gives you the tools to download many types of files from the Internet and organize them as you see fit. You can categorize each file as you download it, and then access all downloads right from the app's main interface.

Pros

Speedy: Most short video files are downloaded almost instantly. As soon as you click "Download," a message pops up telling you the process is complete. You can then play the video immediately, or return to your browser to find more clips.

Browser integration: Since this app integrates with your browser, it can automatically … Read more

Avast Internet Security 2014 review

Avast Internet Security is the second-highest-tier product in Avast's security line. In addition to its flagship malware scanner, Avast Internet Security throws in improved firewall support, email scanners, and mobile-payment security.

Pros

Noninvasive: Avast does what it can to stay out of your way while it runs scans on your machine. As with the Free and Pro versions, Avast Internet Security enlists its community of users to whitelist Web sites and alert you to suspicious or untrustworthy places via Community IQ. Avast also includes Do Not Track integration in its browser add-on.

Streamlined design: The design is exactly like … Read more

Ashampoo WinOptimizer 11 review

Ashampoo's all-new WinOptimizer 11 packs more tools for cleaning, optimizing, and protecting your Windows PC than its freeware competitors, including WinOptimizer Free. And it has a sophisticated yet easy-to-manage layout with support options that the free system utilities can't match. In addition to regularly scheduled system maintenance and tweaks, WinOptimizer 11 has a One-Click Optimizer, extras like anti-spy protection, and a host of modules. Recent upgrades include Live Tuner 2.0, Game Booster, and User Rights Management.

Pros

Does it all: WinOptimizer 11 has an impressive array of tools and features -- more than other software of its … Read more

Hola Better Internet review

Hola Better Internet is the Android app for Hola, the free multiplatform VPN service that lets users watch geoblocked videos in their countries. It comprises two utilities: the Unblocker, which changes the IP that identifies your geographic location, and the Accelerator, which smoothes out media streaming and playback and can even reduce data consumption.

Hola is unusually easy to use for a VPN service, and Hola Better Internet continues the theme. The main screen has only three toggles for Hola, the Unblocker, and the Accelerator. But tap "Help" and then "FAQ," and you'll find an … Read more

Hotspot Shield review

Hotspot Shield is a free tool and service that lets you connect to the Internet via Virtual Private Network (VPN). Hotspot Shield is mainly geared toward those who want a more secure connection when accessing the Internet from public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Pros

Value: Hotspot Shield is one of the largest free VPN services in the world. Though the free version is ad-supported, the paid Elite tier comes at an affordable price, with cross-platform support.

Customizable: Hotspot Shield allows you to connect from other countries. This not only helps to shield your connection origins, but it also potentially lets you access … Read more

Netflix's Hastings makes the case for Net neutrality

Though Netflix agreed last month to pay Comcast for direct access to its broadband network, it doesn't appear to like the arrangement.

The video-streaming service's CEO, Reed Hastings, penned a blog post on Thursday making an impassioned plea for support of Net neutrality.

"The Internet is improving lives everywhere -- democratizing access to ideas, services, and goods," Hastings wrote. "To ensure the Internet remains humanity's most important platform for progress, Net neutrality must be defended and strengthened. The essence of Net neutrality is that ISPs such as AT&T and Comcast don't … Read more

Syria's Internet goes dark for several hours

After a more than seven-hour blackout, it appears the Internet has returned to Syria.

On Thursday morning several Internet monitoring firms began reporting a halt of online traffic in and out of the war-torn country. While it was clear something was amiss, it was unclear who or what was causing the outage.

In the past, divergent players such as the online hacking collective Anonymous or the Syrian Electronic Army -- a President Bashar Assad loyalist group -- have waged attacks on the country's Internet. However, Thursday's outage appears to have two different sources.

First, a group calling itself … Read more

US government begins loosening decades-old grip on the Internet

After incubating the Internet and overseeing it for decades, the US government announced Friday it's releasing the last elements of control it has.

The Department of Commerce originally handled core parts of the Internet, but gradually backed away from those duties through a contract with a nonprofit organization called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). In a statement Friday, the Commerce Department tasked ICANN with convening involved parties to formalize a "multistakeholder" approach to Internet governance.

The nuts and bolts of that work involves running the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS), which translates … Read more