Computer Security, Windows, Internet Explorer, Firefox & Google Chrome

On 18 January 2010, the BBC reports that France and Germany have warned web users against using the Internet Explorer web browser due to its security problems.  Web users are recommended to use alternative browsers such as Firefox and Google Chrome for better computer security.  This article explores computer security topics with Windows, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome.  It also shares ideas on how to protect your computer.

With over 90% market share, Microsoft Windows is the most popular operating system in the world.  An operating system is a software which controls the operation of computer hardware and application software.  The high market share of Windows is already a major computer security problem.  Windows is not a secure and is vulnerable to malicious codes.

Even with the latest Windows 7, it was vulnerable to eight out of ten viruses according to a Sophos experiment in October 2009.  It is therefore very important to update Windows as soon as a new patch is issued.  You must also install an internet security and antivirus software for better protection.

Despite media attention on the recent Internet Explorer flaw, Microsoft has not yet released a patch at the time of writing.  This illustrates the major security problem with Internet Explorer.  According to Secunia 2008 report, it took Microsoft 110 days to patch a number of serious threats.  This means that a web user would be using an insecure browser and exposed to a known security risk for over 3 months.  This gives motivation for users to switch to other browsers for better security.

The major alternatives to Internet Explorer are Firefox and Google Chrome.  Firefox is an open source software with about 25% share of browsers usage.  Google Chrome is developed by the search engine giant Google with about 5% usage share.  You should note that they both have had its shares of security vulnerabilities.  But they are patched far more quickly than Internet Explorer.  This allows web users to use secure browsers most of the time.  Since both browsers are free anyway, a web user can install and use both browsers.  If there is a serious flaw with a browser and a patch is not yet released, you can use the other browser for secure web surfing.

It is worth noting that some web applications only work on Internet Explorer.  It is not a browser problem.  It is just that the application developers have not tested their software on the other browsers.  You may choose to use Internet Explorer, fully patched, only when you need to use those web applications.  If you are a web developer, please always make sure your website works on the most popular browsers.  It is your social responsibility to allow users to visit your website using a secure browser.

In conclusion, you should always update your Windows operating system, browsers and install internet security and antivirus software.  You should also use Firefox and Google Chrome as your major web browser.

References
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8465038.stm

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/04/naked_win7_security/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/12/10/win7_vista_security/

http://secunia.com/gfx/Secunia2008Report.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers

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