Fri, July 02, 2004

Get Firefox for your safety

Steven J Vaughan-Nichols recommends Mozilla Firefox in an article for eWeek titled “Internet Explorer Is Too Dangerous to Keep Using”. It’s shocking how frequently IE security holes have been found this year and how large they are. He writes:

This past Friday I started installing Firefox, the browser-only side of Mozilla, on every one of my production Windows machines.

Why? Because Internet Explorer, like Outlook, has finally become, to my mind, a permanent security hole that masquerades as a useful application.

Strong words? Have you really thought about this latest exploit? It could hit every Internet Explorer (IE) browser that merely visited any page served by an infected Microsoft IIS (Internet Information Server).

No anti-virus program would stop it, no firewall would slow it down and no shipping IE security patch would even notice it. Visit the page, get the infection. It was that simple.

And just how bad was this attack? Boys and girls, let me tell you, this was the worst security violation I have ever seen.

In the few days that the sites provided the Trojan horses, hundreds of thousands or millions of users could have had their credit-card, stock-brokerage and bank-account numbers and passwords stolen.

Let me repeat myself: Millions of you may have every bit of your browser-driven online financial security information stolen.

The bottom line is that for all practical purposes for today, open-source browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox, are inherently more secure than Internet Explorer, and I still have half a dozen more workstations to switch over to Firefox. Go ahead, stick with Internet Explorer for everyday use. It’s your funeral.

In addition to better security, Firefox offers a more enjoyable browsing experience. The few times I’ve used IE in the last few months, I’ve been stunned at how may sites have popup windows for advertising. I haven’t seen one in years with Mozilla and Firefox.

Firefox offers Tabbed browsing, which makes it easy to switch between multiple sites and pages. Conveniently, the bottom of the menu for each bookmark folder has the option to “Open in Tabs”. I organized the bookmarks for a number of sites I read each day in a “Daily” folder. Then I just pick Open in Tabs each morning and read through them.

Firefox’s Find as You Type feature lets you just start typing on a page and it will jump to the links with the letters you’ve typed. It’s a quick way to navigate the page. If you type a slash first, it will search all the text on the page.

Go get Firefox. It’s more secure. It’s more enjoyable. And it automatically imports your Internet Explorer favorites and settings so you can switch very easily.