Alternative to Internet Explorer and its security flaws?

Dennis Faas's picture

Die Hard Infopackets Reader Ted B. writes:

" I have Internet Explorer (IE) 6.0 with Service Pack 1 installed. My Internet Service Provider (ISP) is Juno, and it comes with a web browser (version 5.0, build 33). I recently downloaded Netscape version 7.0.

Yesterday I received word (via LockerGnome's newsletter) that I needed to go to the Microsoft Windows Update web site to download a fix for a recently discovered security vulnerability in Internet Explorer.

My question is: [With all the security breaches with Internet Explorer -- would it make any sense to just stop using IE altogether and use Netscape or the Juno Web browser instead]? Do either of the alternate browsers need to utilize or interact with components of an Internet Explorer? Is there another alternative? I like the way Juno automatically downloads my e-mail and the way Netscape tabs my browsing, so I don't mind scuttling my use of IE. "

My Response:

Internet Explorer and Explorer are one in the same.

Explorer is the "brick and mortar" behind Windows, and, in a nutshell, is responsible for Windows stability and security. If you choose to ignore and not upgrade Internet Explorer, your system may be compromised. Period.

I'm not sure if either Netscape or Juno's web browser uses any core components of Internet Explorer, but that really isn't the issue. What's most important is that you upgrade / patch your existing Internet Explorer in order to ensure that your system is up-to-date.

Having said that -- and in light of Jake Ludington's new eBook, "The Digital Lifestyle Guide to Securing Windows XP", I forwarded a copy of Ted's question to Jake. He responded:

" The very fact software is created [by human beings] makes it flawed.

In short, every browser has security holes. Internet Explorer (IE) is the most popular browser, making it the most likely target for security exploits. Keep up with the security patches issued by Microsoft and your system should remain relatively safe. Uninstalling Internet Explorer isn't an option, so you still need to keep up with the patches even after switching browsers.

Browser Alternatives

Switching to a different browser also means exposing your system to a new set of security holes. Using a browser other than IE means using a browser that isn't automatically updated by Windows Update. If you decide to use either Netscape or the Juno browser, you need to pay close attention to their update procedures, to make sure you are keeping your system secure.

I'll admit right up front -- I've never used the Juno Web Browser. A quick Google search on the subject reveals most people trying to get rid of it [from their systems].

Netscape is a solid browsing alternative, with tabbed browsing being one of the most attractive features. If you want a great mail client and tabbed browsing, you might try Mozilla (link below), which is the basis for Netscape 7.0. The Mozilla mail client almost lured me away from Outlook. If you continue to use Internet Explorer, add tabbed browsing to Internet Explorer with a free utility like MyIE2 (link below).

Ultimately, the only way to keep any browser safe is to make sure you download every security patch and update. Netscape and Juno aren't immune to security holes. Neither are Opera, Mozilla, or any other browser alternatives. I go into more detail about securing your system with security updates in my eBook (The Digital Lifestyle Guide to Securing Windows XP). [A synopsis of the eBook, if you haven't already read it, was discussed in today's feature article above]. ~ Jake "

http://www.mozilla.org

http://www.myie2.com

Side note: Tabbed Browsing is the "new way" to browse a web site. Tabs are placed near the top of the web browser and can be used to navigate a web site. The more pages that are clicked on, the more tabs that appear near the top of the browser.

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