Internet Explorer in 2006

Did you browse the Internet with the world’s most popular web browser last year? I guess no one would say he didn’t. Even if you prefer Mozilla Firefox, Opera or anything else you still would say yes.

Most of you heard about all those Internet Explorer vulnerabilities, flaws, bugs, etc. That was the reason why a lot of people have switched to alternative browsers. However, almost 80 percent of Internet community still access the web with the help of good old IE. I don’t want to argue with them. I’m pretty sure that millions of people would not listen to me, so I rather present some facts.

Yesterday, while reading one of my daily blogs I found a very interesting post that all Internet users should read. This is “Internet Explorer Unsafe for 284 Days in 2006” by Brian Kerebs of Security Fix (The Washington Post). The title says it all. And it’s proven by facts. Here are some quotes.

For a total 284 days in 2006 (or more than nine months out of the year), exploit code for known, unpatched critical flaws in pre-IE7 versions of the browser was publicly available on the Internet. Likewise, there were at least 98 days last year in which no software fixes from Microsoft were available to fix IE flaws that criminals were actively using to steal personal and financial data from users.

Sounds hardly believable? Take a look at this chart. It’s not a joke.

In contrast, Internet Explorer’s closest competitor in terms of market share — Mozilla’s Firefox browser — experienced a single period lasting just nine days last year in which exploit code for a serious security hole was posted online before Mozilla shipped a patch to remedy the problem.

Call my opinion biased, but I say and always said that Mozilla Firefox or Opera are much better choices. Of course, IE fans would say that if Firefox was so popular as IE is now, it would become as vulnerable in just a few months. Well, maybe. But today the situation is different. So why should I take a risk?

The first major flaw in a Windows program last year involved one that could be easily exploited via Internet Explorer. In late December 2005, experts tracked organized criminals hacking into sites and seeding them with code that installed password-stealing spyware on machines used by anyone who merely visited the sites with IE. Microsoft initially downplayed the severity of the attacks, until it became clear that the threat was fairly widespread and that thousands of customers had already been attacked in the span of a few days. The threat was seen as so severe that a large number of security experts urged users to download and install a patch produced by a third party until Microsoft developed an official fix.

That’s the notorious WMF exploit. Internet Explorer 7 is not vulnerable to any of last year’s highly critical risks. It’s a much better product. However, lots of people are still using IE 6. Time proven things are better, they say. I cannot disagree. But we speak about Internet security, a modern-time battlefield where situation changes daily, if not hourly. You are either ready, or dead. It’s not a place for Luddites.

Update to IE7 as soon as possible or get a safe alternative. Unpatched web browser is like a door to your system and confidential information left wide open. Close it once and for all or put a reliable lock.

GTO, forum moderator

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