Tips & Hints


Security problems make alternatives to Internet explorer essential

Updated 27 July, 2004

Internet Explorer is by far the common Internet browser. The big blue E on the Windows' desktop has been the easiest way for computer users to surf the web. Unfortunately we believe it's time to change.

IE itself has become most common way the way for spyware and viruses to get onto your computer. The security holes in IE, coupled Microsoft integrating it deeply into all Windows systems for the last seven years, mean the security problems can be serious. Because of the security problems, we recommend using an alternative.

The major alternatives for PC users are Opera and Mozilla. Opera has a free version, which comes with advertising, and an advertising free version for US$35. Mozilla is the open source version of Netscape as such doesn't use advertising and avoid the AOL marketing that comes bundled with Netscape. Both Opera and Mozilla are good products.

Changing from Internet Explorer can present some problems. Favorites are exported to the new program, but they are handled a different way. More importantly, some sites behave differently depending upon your browser, so it might be necessary to use IE on those sites.

The issue of different site behaviours is the most important point in changing browsers. Some sites, paticularly banks, use Microsoft technology to operate. This means that only Internet Explorer will work on those site, we'd suggest if your bank or broker demands you use IE then you should make your complaints loadly about them tying you to an insecure program.

Listeners to the July Sydney ABC spot suggested installing the Mozilla Active X plugin to overcome these problems. This will allow Mozilla to work on Active X driven pages. Given that Active X is the cause of many Internet Explorer problems, we'd recommend NOT installing the plugin and use IE on those essential sites where Mozilla will not work.

More listeners have pointed out that Active X is not always the villain. Many banks use pop-ups for their login procedures which are disabled by Mozilla and Opera. Allowing pop-ups on a problematic site is a good first step if you are having problems with a site.

Ditching Internet Explorer is not something we recommend lightly, but the security problems in IE and Windows have made this necessary. Microsoft suggest changing Active X settings to overcome the current problems, but the resultant error messages will drive even the most patient user mad. It is possible that the upcoming Windows XP Service Pack 2 may address these problems, but even this has it's problems.

You can't remove Internet Explorer from your Windows computer, even if you could there are some websites that require it. We recommend that Windows users avoid using IE for day to day web surfing and only use it on essential sites such as banking and online trading when it is necessary. Hopefully Microsoft will address these problems in future releases of Windows and we can recommend Internet Explorer with confidence.

Originally posted 18 July, 2004

PC Rescue Pty Ltd, Suite 236, 4 Young Street Neutral Bay NSW 2089
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ŠTechnology Publishing Australia, 2008