Letter #3: Internet Explorer gets the edge
Reader: Bob Konigsberg
Los Gatos, Calif.
Environment: I'm a consultant whose focus is computer and network security. I use Windows 2000 Professional for my daily work, but I also use Windows XP Professional, 98, Windows server 2000 and 2003, and I still have one or two machines running Windows NT. I have used many browsers: IE, Netscape, Opera, Older Mozilla and now Firefox.
Internet Explorer or Firefox: Internet Explorer
Why IE: I have no problems in particular with IE. I continue to use IE because it's required for Windows/Office Update sites, and there are a number of other sites, especially those using plug-ins (Like Java) that work better with IE.
Firefox as a future attack target: I'm no more concerned about Firefox becoming a target than I am with IE, in the sense that hackers go after their target audiences. Microsoft has made significant strides with their secure computing initiative, and will continue to do so. I expect that both will be hacked. However Microsoft has an edge in smooth patching mechanisms available.
What Microsoft should do to fix browser problems: It's not what Microsoft does so much as it is which browser works with which sites or applications. Firefox is still not mature enough. Only time will tell.
How to enforce safe browsing:
- Never click on any pop-up, ever, except to close it
- Never download or install any add-in, even if it tells you that you must install it to see a Web page. The exception are known add-ins like Acrobat, Macromedia and QuickTime.
- Never follow ads for anything free
- Let your mouse hover over links in e-mails so you can see if the real link matches what it appears to be. This is especially important to avoid phishing e-mails. It doesn't matter if you don't understand the link, just make sure they match.
For more letters to the editor, click for the complete series.