Just the other day, news of a pretty major hole in Internet Explorer versions 6 and 7 was made public (no word on whether or not the vulnerability applies to version 8, which is the latest one at this time).
Why did the “hacker” in question make this information public? Some people might assume he or she wants to cause widespread chaos, but I actually think it’s good to publicly post things like this. This forces Microsoft to come up with a patch for the problem as soon as possible.
However, I recently decided I’m sort of done with always waiting for Microsoft to patch browser software that has more holes than a hunk of Swiss, and made the switch to Mozilla Firefox.
I can’t really give you the tech-head reasons why I feel Firefox is the better, safer browser (mostly because I’m not much of a tech-head), but a large portion of the Internet-savvy population agrees that it’s the way to go.
For one thing, Firefox is “open source” software. A whole community of programmers is constantly making improvements to it. Should the rare security vulnerability come to light, it’s fixed in record time.
Microsoft is at a disadvantage here. Being a huge corporation with shareholders’ interests as their primary concern, they have multiple levels of bureaucracy to work through before they can release anything. I’m sure even a simple security patch is met with resistance—”This will mean publicly admitting a weakness, which could hurt share prices!”
I’m not saying Microsoft couldn’t release a great browser right out of the box, I just think that with their deadlines and the need to think about profitability above all else, they tend to rush releases before everything is ready.
For example, if you visit Facebook, it will start by blocking every script. Then you can select “Allow facebook.com” to run scripts. There will usually be several different websites per page running scripts, so you can select whether or not you trust them. If you don’t like the look of one of the URLs, simply don’t allow that site to run code, or search for it on Google to find out what it is (for example, I don’t let Fastclick.net run scripts. Ever).
There are some other good plug-ins, most of which I haven’t looked at. Some block pop-ups, some probably don’t work too great at all. The Firefox site has a big list of available add-ons.
There are a million better articles than this one about “Internet Explorer vs. Firefox” (just do a Google search), but if you’re ready to switch now, go download Firefox here and get the NoScript plug-in here.