September 16, 2004

Are You Still Using Internet Explorer? 

posted by Paul Smith @ 4:52 PM
A little change of pace here—at right, I've added a link button for the Firefox web browser. The result of an open source software development community organized by the Mozilla Foundation, Firefox is a superior modern browser that's quickly replacing Internet Explorer on desktops all over.

To most people, their web browser is the Internet, so the idea of switching to another browser is borderline nonsensical. But the reason I'm pimping it out is simply, if you want to your computer to be secure when you browse the Internet, you shouldn't use Internet Explorer. It's not just an intellectual exercise; there are vulnerabilities in the code of Internet Explorer that, if exploited, could let some shady character out there literally take control of your computer. This is to say nothing of all the annoying worms, viruses, and spywares that Internet Explorer let pass because of its poor quality design. And that's not just me saying it; this is from a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

The Mozilla people will rightly tell you that Firefox stands on its own not just as an Internet Explorer alternative: it's faster and better at rendering HTML. Unfortunately, there are a handful of sites that, for various reasons, only work correctly with Internet Explorer: I keep a copy around solely for my car sharing reservation service (disclosure: I work at the company which runs that car sharing business), a deficiency they are actively working to resolve. I've heard reports that some banking sites won't work with anything other than Internet Explorer. But for practically 99.9% of the WWW, you will have a faster, better-looking, and safer browsing experience with Firefox. And of course it's free! (As in "beer" and "speech.")

One of my day trades is web development, which explains my nerdy excitement over a piece of software. But I think this is one of those cases where the entire Internet-using community benefits; by taking an easy step to protect your own computer, everyone's electronic security is increased.

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