Friends Don’t Let Friends Use the Edge Web Browser (or Bing for Search)

This past week at school, I accidentally clicked a bad link while setting up a fresh installation of Windows10. This dramatically highlighted how easy it is for someone today to accidentally install malware or adware on a computer, and why friends shouldn’t let friends use the Edge Web Browser or the Bing search engine by Microsoft. By comparison, the Chrome web browser and Google’s search engine are MUCH more secure and safe. In this post, I’ll share more details from last week’s browser malware story to highlight why this exhortation is valid and important from a security perspective.

In the summer we typically re-image our school computer lab computers, and for the past two years have used the open source program Clonezilla for re-imaging our PC labs. We’re in the process of migrating to a mobile device manager (MDM) for all our faculty/staff Windows as well as MacOS computers (FileWave), but at this point legacy imaging is still working for us in our PC labs and is a more cost-effective solution than using a MDM.

After recent Windows updates, unfortunately, four of our all-in-one Dell computers in one of our labs have refused to startup, so the task fell to me last week to get some replacement computers in place for that lab. If there were more computers to setup, we might have re-imaged, but in this case it seemed more expeditious to just re-install Windows from a flash drive and then install the seven software applications which are needed in that lab. (Chrome, FireFox, Audacity, Minecraft Education Edition + Code Connection, Algodoo, and Deep Freeze.)

Once I’d finished installing Windows10 from the flash drive and setting up the initial offline admin account, I launched the Edge web browser to download and install Google Chrome. I was briefly distracted by questions from someone else in the room, and had searched for the Chrome download link in Edge using the default WindowsOS search engine, Bing. I didn’t click the top link (which is usually a paid advertisement) and thought I had clicked the correct download link from Google, but in my haste I clicked the wrong link and also clicked an acknowledgement to let the installation proceed. When I realized my error and clicked to stop the installation, the program would not cancel until it had completed and also installed an unwanted “driver restore” program. You can see that error message as well as the malware web address and error message in the screen photo above. After the installation completed, I just reinstalled Windows10 from scratch again, since it’s better in cases like these to just “blow the OS completely away” and start fresh, rather than try to remove malware manually.

While I was re-installing Windows10 again on that PC, I opened the same website on my Mac (which I had accidentally clicked on the PC) in my Google Chrome browser, and was shown a RED security warning page that declared, “Deceptive site ahead.”

Not only did the Bing web browser present this malware website near the top of its search results for Google Chrome, but it also did NOT identify the site as hosting malware. Bing (by Microsoft) provided zero warning that was a malicious site. Other websites, like “Norton Safe Web,” which are supposed to test for malicious websites, also failed to identify the site as bad. Google, however, did not fail me.

We install both the Chrome and FireFox web browsers on all our WindowsOS and MacOS computers at school, and recommend that our faculty/staff primarily use Chrome. The experience I’ve shared in this post is a specific and recent example highlighting why we recommend Chrome and do NOT encourage anyone to use the Edge browser. Security threats and malicious vulnerabilities for our computers and mobile devices continue to proliferate, and we all need to be continually vigilant. By using more secure web browsers and search engines, like the Chrome web browser and Google’s search engine, we can hopefully avoid situations like this one I had last week and stay safe online.

In addition to using a more safe and secure web browser, you also should always use the most current version of your web browser’s software. WhatBrowser.org will tell if you if you’re running the latest version, and also offer some other safe browser options. Thankfully (and predictably, since the site is owned by Google) the Microsoft Edge web browser is NOT on the list of recommended browser alternatives.

Since early 2017, Microsoft has claimed its Edge web browser is safer than Google Chrome.

Sorry Microsoft, I’m not falling for your marketing claims. Recent personal experiences are a persuasive teacher.

Friends don’t let friends use Edge.

Oh my, it’s deja vu from March 2011!

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Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?

Beware of Phishing Cell Phone Calls: Don’t Share Personal Info with Strangers

Here’s an important cautionary tale for anyone with a cell phone: Beware of phishing calls. Don’t share personal information with strangers over the phone, if you can’t verify their identity and authority with absolute certainty.

Like many others, I’ve noticed a significant uptick in the past few months of spam phone calls to my cell phone. I’m not sure how folks are getting my cell phone number, but I suspect as cell phone numbers have become a de-facto identifier in recent years for data collection agencies and marketers, there are more opportunities than ever for unscrupulous folks to obtain our cell phone numbers through “officially legitimate” means. Of course hacks are on the rise too, so there are tons of data files floating around now with our “private” cell phone numbers. This is unfortunate, since cell phone numbers were never designed or intended to become identity markers, and this places us all at risk for bad things, as this excellent August 2018 article in Wired magazine highlighted.

Cell phone spam calls have become such a problem that I now rarely answer a cell phone call if it’s from someone not in my address book. For some reason this afternoon, however, I decided to answer a phone call from an unknown caller.

The woman on the line initially tried to read a script that she was calling on a recorded line, like an official credit collection agency, but stumbled around initial greetings and never read it fully. She said she was calling for payment for a local university, and needed information from me to verify my identity. She first asked for my address, and when I would not provide it asked for the last four digits of my social security number.

I asked her to explain what this charge was for, and all she could say was it was a “miscellaneous charge” from a local university. She did name the university, and since it’s in our local area we do have some connection to it, so it was slightly plausible we had an open bill with them. However, we haven’t received anything in snail mail from the university, and haven’t seen any emails. One of our daughters took a concurrent class from this university last Spring, so I asked her to check her online Bursar’s account tonight, and we don’t owe a balance. So this was, in my estimation, a confirmed instance of cell phone call phishing.

When I asked the caller today what university office I could call to verify this bill or debt, she insisted she could not provide me with any additional information until I verified my identity. I stated several times that I was not going to provide any personal information to a stranger who had made an unsolicited phone call to me. This is the most important message I’d like to share in this post. We need to not only encourage our children and students who have cell phones, but also our aging parents and friends of ANY age to be VERY wary about giving out any information over the phone to strangers.

This reminds me of one of the basic digital citizenship lessons we’ve created for our elementary students at school, which uses a short video from NetSafe about “Personal Information.” The video depicts a face-to-face stranger asking for personal information, but in my situation today, it was a stranger calling on the phone who ALMOST sounded like a legitimate debt collector, making an illegitimate request for personal information which I REFUSED. This response was both appropriate and very important for my own safety and potentially the financial safety of our family.

Online scams are on the rise and, unfortunately, are only projected to multiply in the months and years ahead as more criminals ramp up their Internet-based activities.

Conversations about “not talking to strangers” are important today not just for kids, but also for adults. “Verifying information” about you can be used to unlock a bank account, port a cell phone number, or take control of an online account like an email address or AppleID.

Stay safe and stay savvy, folks.

For more resources on these topics, check out my weekly podcast with Jason Neiffer, “The EdTech Situation Room,” and also visit our school’s Digital Citizenship resource website: DigCit.us. There are good resources there for parents and teachers, and we’ll be continuing to add to those resources in the days ahead.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?