Is Your Web Browser Putting You At Risk?

It's free, it comes with Windows and it's used by approximately 94% of the Internet population. It also poses an unacceptable security risk. What am I talking about? If you guessed Internet Explorer, you're right on the money. So, is your web browser putting you at risk? If you're one of the 94% using Internet Explorer, the answer is a definite *yes*. By my math, quite a few people require critical information for protection.

What's the problem with Internet Explorer (known as "IE" from here out) and how does it put you at risk?

The main problem with IE is the numerous security flaws. As an example, between April 2001 and June 2004, Microsoft documented *153 security flaws* in IE. When a security flaw is discovered Microsoft releases information about the flaw and the potential impact. *Usually* at this point Microsoft provides a downloadable security fix to remedy the problem. Since many people don't know about the flaw and the fix, frequently people remain vulnerable for long periods of time.

Just how serious are some of these security flaws? Some of the critical security flaws allow attackers to basically gain control of your computer and run whatever malicious programs they chose. In many cases, your vulnerable computer can be compromised just by visiting the wrong website.

Here are but a few of the malicious programs I've seen loaded on people's computers through security holes in IE:

  • Browser Hijackers. These are programs that do nasty things like change your home page to another page, usually something pornographic in nature. They can also install software and links on your desktop, of course *without* your permission.

  • Spyware. This is extremely devious and malicious software, and in many cases, it's used by criminals for online identity theft. Once it's on your computer, Spyware sits quietly in the background recording information about you. Do you shop and bank online? This is one threat to be extremely concerned about.

What can you do to improve security?

Rather than continue to apply what boils down to "band aid" security fixes to IE, I recommend a more permanent solution. Stop letting IE put you at risk, and switch to another web browser.

How exactly will switching web browsers help? Quite simply, there are so many security exploits on the Internet targeted specifically to IE that just by using another browser, you'll happily avoid most of them.

The good news is that there are several alternative web browsers available free of charge like Netscape, Mozilla, Opera and Firefox. For more information a great website to visit is http://BrowseHappy.com. This website is dedicated to getting people to switch from IE. It's full of "real life" stories about why people switched, and what browser they're using now.

So, what's the best browser of the bunch? Well, it's highly subjective of course, but my vote goes to ?

Firefox, "Rediscover the Web" A new browser called Firefox has quickly become my web browser of choice. First off, Firefox was written to be "lean and mean" and it certainly delivers. It's faster at loading web pages than IE and even provides features not found in IE. Something I suspect will quickly become a favorite feature is called tabbed browsing. Tabbed browsing allows you to load multiple web pages in the same window, and quickly switch between the loaded pages. Tired of pop-ups? Firefox has the best built-in pop-up blocker I've seen. I have yet to see a pop-up get past it. When it comes to security, Firefox receives *high marks*.

Firefox definitely has a positive "buzz" going right now, and it's easy to see why. If you're interested in trying out Firefox, you can download it for free here: http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/

I'll conclude by saying that switching browsers is only one of several steps necessary to protect yourself from the many threats on the Internet, but it's certainly a good place to start. Here's to practicing safe computing.

© Doug Partridge - All Rights reserved

About The Author

Doug Partridge is co-author of a new eBook, "How to Secure Your Computer Using Free Tools and Smart Strategies." This is the missing Internet security guide that should have come with your Windows computer, but didn't.

Free Details => http://www.SecureYourComputer.net

In The News:

Meet your new Tech Help Desk  The Washington Post
Personal tech startup Humane raises $100M  PitchBook News & Analysis
5 Tips for Smartphone Voice Tools  The New York Times
Take Control of Your Home Screen  The New York Times

A Tale of Two Regeds

Tech support tells me to type 'regedt32' as opposed to... Read More

The Importance Of Email Backup

Viruses, software failures, power failures, human errors, hard drive failures... Read More

Ergonomics and Healthy Computing - Positioning Your Body For Maximum Comfort At Your Computer

Do you remember the old saw about how computers would... Read More

Freezing - Time To Warm Up Your PC

Freezing is also known as crashing or hanging. It's frustrating.... Read More

Things You Can Do To Speed Up Your Computer

Upgrading your processor will always speed up your computer, but... Read More

Help, I Need a New HDTV! (Part 3 of 5)

Feeling overwhelmed in selecting a new TV? With all the... Read More

Registry Tools Demystified

Not sure what Windows registry is or how it works?... Read More

Home Video? Bring it On

So you got yourself a digital camcorder. If you want... Read More

How Does a Palm Pilot Work?

Just The Facts, Ma'mPalm pilots are all the rage now.... Read More

Apache, MySQL & PHP for Windows

Apache, MysQL and PHP for Windows could be a nice... Read More

JVCs First Three-Layer Combo-Disc Blu-Ray / DVD

JVC developed and used a high-performance reflective film to produce... Read More

Lives With Games Tradition and Industry

The United States Of America citizen feels that games is... Read More

The Help Desk

When you think of a help desk, what do you... Read More

Classification of Computers

Computers are available in different shapes, sizes and weights, due... Read More

Use Your Computer For Your Entertainment Needs

By using your computer today you can find a lot... Read More

Digital Cameras: How Many Pixels Do I Need?

With the bewildering number of digital cameras on the market,... Read More

Is Online DVD Rental or Pay-Per-View the Best Way to Get Your Movies?

With renting methods such as online DVD rental and pay-per-view,... Read More

Choosing a Portable MP3 Player: Part 1

MP3 players are everywhere! It seems that the number of... Read More

Customize Your Portable Player with an MP3 Player Accessory

Everywhere you look today people are listening to personal audio... Read More

Simple Overview Of Computer

Computer is an electronic machine work on the instructions of... Read More

HTML Explained: Part 1

Want to save money while promoting your web-based business? Of... Read More

Cut Through the Hype and Make the Right Digital Camera Comparisons

There are soooo many choices. With all the styles and... Read More

Image Formats: GIF, JPEG, BMP

When browsing the internet you are likely to come across... Read More

Help, I Need a New HDTV! (Part 1 of 5)

Feeling overwhelmed in selecting a new TV? With all the... Read More

A Peek Into the Near Future of Electronics Technology

How long do you think DVDs have around? 20 years?... Read More