Jim Doty - Photo Blog

Photography: Photos, News, and Tips
Thursday, January 01, 2004
Protect Your Computer!
Say Goodbye to Internet Explorer!

"Why?" you might ask. For safety, convenience, no pop up ads, and speed.

IE (Microsoft Internet Explorer) has been around a long time and is the internet browser of choice for many people. About 60% if the folks that visit my website use IE, but that percentage has been decreasing over time. The percentage of people using Mozilla is rising.

Small wonder. New "vulnerabilities" have been discovered in IE in the last few weeks for which Microsoft has not yet released a corrective "patch." Recently discovered flaws in IE allow outside folks to run their software on your computer, steal your personal information without your knowledge, and alter documents on your computer.

One recent and uncorrected IE flaw allows a remote site to show you a legitimate site's address in your address bar (like "www.yahoo.com" or "www.microsoft.com") when you are actually at www.stealyourmoney.com. The fake site can mimic a legitimate site in oder to get your credit card number or other personal information. Your IE address bar will give you no warning.

Outlook Express (OE) has similar flaws that allow outsiders to infect your computer with viruses, spyware, and other nefarious problems.

Part of the problem is the flaws in Microsoft's software. Part of the problems is that folks who mean to do harm to your computer pick on IE and OE since they are the most popular and the most vulnerable.

You can diligently download the latest patch from Microsoft to fix these constantly appearing problems, if and when the patch appears. Or you can set yourself free.

I finally took my son Jared's advice (he is my computer guru) and downloaded Mozilla. I like it. It is much faster than IE and it is just as easy to use. Mozilla also blocks popups and has anti-spam tools.

Best of all, "Mozilla is immune to nearly all of the IE and OE problems, without any patching or worrying or keeping up on bug news" (Phillip Robinson of Knight Ridder Newspapers as quoted in the Dec 29 issue of the Colubus Dispatch). Robinson suggests what my son has been wanting me to do for months, switch to Mozilla.

Having multiple sites open is easier with Mozilla. You can still right click a link to open it in a new window, just like with IE, but you can also right click a link to open it as a "New Tab." All the pages you have open are accessed by tabs across the top of your page. Super neat! Try it.

There are several versions. Mozilla 1.5 is the current version of choice for lots of folks. I downloaded Firebird 0.7 and it is now my browser of choice.

I have never used OE myself, but I am told Mozilla's email program is superior to OE with better anti-spam tools. I can't vouch for that myself.

You don't have to uninstall IE. You can still use it whenever you think some slimeball hacker hasn't had a decent chance to get into your computer and steal your credit card numbers or bank account information. Think of it a living dangerously.

MOZILLA IS FREE! Such a deal! Download it from their site. If you don't want to download it, you can get the CD for a measly $3.95.

The next time tens of thousands of computers are infected by the latest virus due to weaknesses in IE and/or OE, you can sit back and smile!

I do use and appreciate a number of Microsoft products, but I have decided that IE is too risky to use as my primary browser and requires too much upkeep.

Go to Mozilla.org

If you are using Netscape, you also have immunity to many of the problems that plague Internet Explorer!

For more safe computing software, check out ZoneAlarm (a free firewall) , Spybot (free spyware detection), Ad-Aware (another spyware detector), and other software from links on my website. If you have a broadband conection (cable, DSL) you really need a firewall. You should scan periodically for spyware, just like you do for viruses. You can find links to all of this software here.

Happy Computing!



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