Why You Should Dump Internet Explorer
The time has come to dump Internet Explorer. I know, I know -- you may have heard the samething before from those that think it's cool to hate Microsoft; but I'm not one of those guys. I'mactually an MCSE and I happen to like quite a few of Microsoft's products. Rather than lump meinto the Microsoft-basher category, consider for a moment why you use the browser you use, andhumor me by entertaining the notion, if even for a second, that switching to another might beworth your while. My argument is simple:
The benefits of using IE are too few -- and the faults too many -- to put off the adoption of analternative any longer.
Since information security is my hobby/job/obsession, this particular topic is near and dear to myheart. Just about everyone reading this has seen computers that have been beaten down withspyware - the evil junk that hijacks IE and renders a system virtually useless. How many timeshave you been called to a family member's house to clean up their system? Or had to call your techie friend to come clean yours? It's often quite awkward - the system slows to a crawl andevery other mouse click conjures up some species of perverse, obscene image. What most peopledon't realize, however, is that there is a very simple and powerful way to defend your system(and/or the systems of your loved ones) in one fell swoop.
Don't use Internet Explorer.
What makes other browsers better than IE at protecting vs. spyware and other attacks? Well, it'ssimple really - most other browsers don't make it so easy to install malicious software on your system without you knowing about it. IE makes it relatively trivial through two features calledActiveX and Active Scripting. These technologies were designed specifically for the purpose of giving websites more control over a user's computer. Unfortunately, as we have seen with exploitafter exploit - that's not always a good thing.In addition to the spyware issues, IE in general has had a terrible track record when it comes toall types of serious security issues. For years now, it's seemed like every time you turn aroundthere is a new way to have your computer taken over via Internet Explorer. Put "internetexplorer" and "allow an attacker to execute commands" (with the quotes) into Google and you'llsee what I mean.In IE's defense, many anti-Microsoft types will claim that it's not possible to lock down IE at all.This is not true. It is possible, but if and only if you have a fair amount of technical know-how onthe subject, and the time to do it. My personal view, however, is that tools such as Internet browsers should not require extensive expertise and configuration time to be able to use themsafely.
This is likely to get me in some hot water with my fellow security enthusiasts, but I find thisissue to be of even more concern than that of IE's security. The Internet works for one simplereason - everything at its core has been built on agreements that bind it together. Whether acomputer is connected from California or Sri Lanka, it's going to speak the same language andobey the same rules - the rules defined by standards. If this weren't the case there would be noInternet at all.