ScanIT, an Internet security consultancy, reports Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was unsafe 98 percent of the time, during 2004. The data were collected from 195,000 internet users who used ScanIT’s online security checker. The reported 98 percent unsafe rating is based on security holes being found in fully-patched installations of Internet Explorer on every day of the year 2004, except the week between October 12 and 19.
Pennsylvania State University now urges all students to stop using Microsoft Internet Explorer and use an alternative web browser, such as Firefox, Opera, or Safari. This week the university, famous for its Nittany Lion mascot and graduates who seem to never forget their alma mater, took serious notice of the security issues caused by Microsoft’s flagship web browser and took the public step of recommending students use an alternative.
The Mozilla Foundation has released Firefox 1.0, the long-awaited competitor of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser. Developing a loyal following during beta testing, Firefox was released at 1 A.M. PST today and users from around the world quickly brought the mozilla.org servers to a grinding halt.
The web browser is everything that I expected it would be: sleek, simple, streamlined, fast, and above all, not susceptible to many of the web-borne security maladies that afflict Microsoft’s browser. Firefox includes support for hundreds of extensions that add functionality to the core product.
According to the Mozilla Foundation’s website, Firefox benefits include:
1. Pop-up Blocking
Firefox includes an integrated pop-up blocker that lets users-not websites-decide when they will view pop-ups. Mozilla continues to set the standard in assisting users avoid annoying pop-ups.
2. Online Fraud Protection
Firefox helps users protect themselves against online fraud such as “phishing” (attempts to trick users into giving away their passwords) and “spoofing” (fraudulent sites masquerading as popular, trusted sites) by clearly displaying the true identity of secure sites.
3. Faster, Easier, More Accessible Search
Firefox tightly integrates support for leading search services into the toolbar, including Google search, Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon, Dictionary.com, Creative Commons, and more. The new Firefox Start Page also provides access to Firefox information, resources and application tips, coupled with an integrated Google search box.
4. More Efficient Browsing
Firefox’s innovative Tabbed Browsing allows many web pages to load within the same window, improving the speed and utility of web browsing. Firefox also introduces Live Bookmarks, which allows users to easily glance through the latest news and blog headlines.
5. Easy Migration
With Firefox it’s easy to switch from Internet Explorer and other browsers. Firefox imports your existing bookmarks, passwords, cookies, and other data.
I was finally able to get a copy of the program this afternoon by logging directly into the foundation’s FTP server, and not coming in through the website. I’ve been testing and recommending the program to students and clients for months, and so far, no one has told me that I’ve steered them wrong. This is definitely a web browser worth trying.
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