Web Browsers: How the Browser Wars Can Keep you a Little Safer

But Creep, why only a ‘Little Safer’? Ok, well I’m NOT a computer security expert so I’m not going to discuss ways to make your system hacker proof. If I was working in that sector I’d have zero time for WoW or blogging*. Since however there’s been a lot of buzz in the WoW community over a recent Internet Explorer flaw, I wanted to post a quick entry that let folks know that there are alternatives to using Internet Explorer.

So what’s the big deal anyway?

Well this specific exploit was able to steal passwords. So passwords for your WoW account, your e-mail account, even your bank account. Spooner over at The Daily Spoon has a write up on the details (Link). As you can imagine, this can be a pretty scary deal.

Is this just an Internet Explorer thing?

Unfortunately it isn’t and no I’m not picking on Internet Explorer or the Big Sqish (Microsoft). The sad part is that people make money by stealing account information. If they didn’t this wouldn’t happen. So since Step 3 equals profit (South Park), step 1 is figuring out how to get that info. So people invest a lot of time and energy looking under the hood so to speak of web browsers and other programs to try to weedle this info out of these programs.

Use a lesser known browser.

What? Why? Heh, well it’s sort of on par with why there are so few hacks for the Mac OS. Sure it’s pretty secure and all, but it also doesn’t have a lot of market share. While yes more and more people use Macs all the time (which absolutely boggles my mind), there still aren’t as many people using Macs as there are folks using PC’s, specifically Windows. It’s not a which one is better issue quite so much as a which one is cheaper issue, cheaper is easier to pay for, easy is good. Internet Explorer comes loaded on all Windows machines, it’s easy enough to use a program that’s right there and most folks don’t know that there are other types of browsers that they can use. Most folks then just use Internet Explorer because it’s just right there, nice and easy. Since a lot of folks use Internet Explorer, folks looking to fulfil step 3 (profit) are pretty much going to also take the easiest route and dig into this one browser in the hopes of hitting up the most amount of people without haveing to code things three and four times over. See that easy thing just keeps working its way around.

Aurdon over at I Sheep Things made this point when he discusses why he uses Googles new web browser Google Chrome (Link). Freshly out of beta (testing), Google Chrome is another service brought to you by those handy Google guys. Other than the ‘incognito’ setting that doesn’t store your web history, I don’t see it doing a whole lot more than Firefox (my standard browser). However since it’s still pretty new and not a lot of folks are using it I can’t imagine that a lot of hackers are going to delve into the Chrome code to look for exploitable flaws. Well at least not for now.

You can also try any of a number of other lesser used and hence lesser targeted browsers. Apple has released a version of their web browser Safari. While yes there are a lot of folks that use Macs, there still aren’t as many folks using Macs as there are folks using pc’s (mostly because Macs are really pricy). I don’t use Safari, but there is a version available for Windows users and may be worth checking out if you like the Mac aesthetic stylings.

Opera is another one of the lesser known browsers that’s been out there for years, has a hard core if small follower base and has some cool features. I don’t use Opera because there’s no plugins. If you don’t care about adding a bunch of junk to your browser, Opera will work just fine for you. You can even load it on a smart phone or pocket pc if you’re leery about using Internet Explorer while on the road.

Personally I’m a die hard Firefox fan. I’ve been using it since 2003 or so. You know back when it was the only browser *gasp* with TABS. That sold me. I also like the fact that I can change the way it looks with new themes, I can add in plugins that do things like block obnoxious adds, sync my bookmarks between computers, and even peruse the Homestarrunner.com website.  Gotta love those guys. There’s also a lot of security features built into Firefox as well as additional security plugins that you can use to add more security to it if you feel the need.

Final Notes:

In the end, really using a browser of choice is totally up to you. It is nice though to know that you’ve got some options. Now to check my e-mail and play in the snow (Link).

* I’d be reading constantly, not saying that folks in this sector don’t I just know I wouldn’t, too much pressure man

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