Which Internet Browser is more Secure?
December 17, 2008

From time to time I am asked, "What is the most secure browser?" or "Should I stop using Microsoft Internet Explorer?" or even, "Is Firefox more secure than I.E.?"

People who ask these questions usually have just heard a news report about a security vulnerability with Microsoft Internet Explorer or Firefox.  For example, this week Yahoo reported on a security vulnerability in Microsoft Internet Explorer. This story was credible and Microsoft has already released a fix for the problem.

The fix can be manually downloaded and applied or if automatic updates are turned on, it will come down the next time your system initiates an automatic Windows update. Here is the link should you desire to download the fix manually: Microsoft out-of-band security update for Internet Explorer

Vulnerabilities have been, and will continue to be, announced for all major Internet browsers.  The reporting of Microsoft vulnerabilities are given higher visibility not because Internet Explorer is a less secure browser, but because they make for higher impact news; Internet Explorer represents a higher percentage of the global installed product base than any other browser. No major news agency really reports on a vulnerability discovered within Blazer Web Browser by Palm, because it does not lead in the overall market share.

Curious which browsers lead the browser market share? View Market Share Report, by Net Application

When such vulnerabilities are reported, so come the hyperbole articles about why this or that browser in better or more secure than Internet Explorer.  There are many article posted to the Internet in support of various browsers, i.e Firefox, Opera, Safari, etc. Many of these article outline that generally speaking all these browsers are safe to use, it is how you use them and where you go that can be the issue. The articles also outline how to tighten the browser settings for increased security, as well as, noting the importance of keeping the browser updated, having a good anti-virus and anti-spyware installed, and having firewall protection.

Here is an article for Internet Explorer: Better Browsing, Internet Explorer 7 offers improved security and productivity

I really do not listen to the hyperbole opinions of news agencies and weekend tech writers. Rather, I find the information of reputable security firms or organizations more reliable. 

One resource is the The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).  StaySafeOnline.org is the National Cyber Security Alliance’s Website. Content on the website is developed in cooperation with many of their partners including government, industry, non-profit and education partners.  Their mission is to create a culture of cyber security and safety awareness by providing the knowledge and tools necessary to prevent cyber crime and attacks.

During the second quarter of 2008, Cenzic, a leader in application security testing, published their latest Application Security Trends Reports.

  Cenzic Application Security Trends Report, Q2 2008

This report includes a section on web browser security and vulnerabilities, and states: “Vulnerabilities in Web browsers were concentrated among four popular technologies - Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Safari. The Firefox Web browser had the most reported vulnerabilities during the Q2 2008 time period, comprising roughly 41percent of the total browser vulnerabilities. The chart below shows the percentage of the total browser vulnerabilities associated with each product.

There always seem to be someone that is out to ruin a good thing. They continue to create their electronic infections of viruses, spyware, email viruses, adware, worms, malware, trojan horses, scumware, and more. 

These forms of electronic infections can damage your computer and be spread to others.  if you are running Microsoft Windows Vista, XP Pro or or another Microsoft Operating System, ensure you have the latest service pack installed and the Windows firewall turned on. Also ensure you have Automatic Updates turned on.

In addition to these items, install one of the best anti-virus and anti-spyware programs available, respectively Norton Antivirus and Lavasoft Ad-Aware Professional. Beyond the software firewall, make sure your system is protected by a NAT based hardware firewall.

Other items in the security equation revolve around the end-users practices. Some of the largest everyday threats come from downloading free music, games, software, and accepting third-party browser plug-ins from questionable websites.

The newsletter I wrote in 2004 is still applicable today, 10 Security Tips for the Holidays

In summary, I remain an Internet Explorer user and a keen fan of the big coding-house machine called Microsoft. No other company has greater resources or market shares at stake, which drives them to stay one step ahead of the world’s hackers and malicious code creators while providing you with great computing products.

We wish you peace, prosperity, and happiness during this holiday season and throughout the coming year.

Troy Van Marter

Stratagem Technical Services® | Our Solutions, Your Success
47 Charter Oak Dr, Oxford, Connecticut 06478, USA
Tel: +1 203 304 2074 | Fax: +1 203 463 9445

Stratagem Technical Services offers you assistance with implementing security precautions.  We offer professional, cost-effective computer, network, and Internet services and support for the personal, small business, and larger corporate communities. 



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