You Aren’t Using Internet Explorer 6, Right?

Every day, you might browse the web without thinking about which browser you are using, or which version you have installed, but with another Zero-Day exploit for Internet Explorer out in the wild, it might be time to reconsider.

The response thus far by security experts has been: “Internet Explorer users should ensure their antivirus definitions are up to date, disable JavaScript and only visit Web sites they trust until fixes are available from Microsoft.” (via Symantec)

Really the response should be, “You aren’t still using old versions of Internet Explorer, are you?” This article will go over some choices you have, and hopefully, despite your attachment to whatever browser you may be using, you’ll keep an open mind.

How Do I Know Which Browser Version I am Using?

The first issue that crops up when I ask people about their browser is that they don’t know what they are using. They’ll tell me that they use the big E on their desktop, or via some custom icon, they load up what they assume to be a custom browser. They’ll tell me that they use the Road Runner browser, or the MSN one, without knowing that essentially, they are using a slightly customized version of Internet Explorer.

ff_versionThe first step to staying informed about security online is to know what vehicle you are using to get you from web site to web site. Even if you don’t know what browser you are using, the following instructions should help.

Click Help and then About. Sometimes it will say About Internet Explorer, About Firefox or About Browser Name (whatever that might be), but either way, you’ll get to the version information you need. Then go to the appropriate site, and see if a newer version is available.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Page
Mozilla Firefox’s Web Page
Google Chrome’s Website

Is Internet Explorer Bad?

No, this isn’t one of those BASH IE articles, where the writer spends all day telling you to switch. My opinion is, and always has been, the best web browser is the one that is secure, fast and has the features you want. Other browsers have been able to take a large lead in those areas, and as such are highly recommended, but if you like Internet Explorer, then continue to use it, but I am begging you to upgrade. IE 6 is now far too old, slow and buggy to be safely used to browse around the modern Internet. It would be akin to taking a horse and cart to go the wrong way on the highway.

I’ve heard all of the Pro-IE 6 arguments before. I know you love the simplicity, and IE 6 probably works great for you, but I am flat out telling you that you can’t use it anymore. Upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer, get a recent version of another major browser, or get off the Internet. It is for your safety as well as my own. What happens, more often then not, is that your computer gets software downloaded upon it that then steals your information or is used to attack websites, servers, and other computers. By not updating, you are enabling such attacks to occur at an ever increasing rate.

Internet Explorer 8, and the quickly being developed version 9, are decent browsers. They’ve come along way since version 6, and have introduced modern browsing features like tabs, allowing you to browser faster, use less computer memory, and organize your browsing better.

Internet-Explorer-8

Another Choice: Mozilla Firefox

The standard alternative choice to Internet Explorer, since Netscape started loosing ground, Firefox is fast, easy to migrate to, and highly expandable through its plugin system. If you want a toolbar to track new messages in your e-mail, block advertisements or to see what’s making your web page look wrong, Firefox has extensions that will allow you to easily perform such tasks.

This, among many other reasons, makes it the go-to browser for many people looking to switch from Internet Explorer, or any other “poor” browsing experience they may be having.

Another Choice: Google Chrome

chrome-logoGoogle Chrome is my browser of choice right now. I’ve switched browsers from time to time and being a geek, that’s just what I do, but the main reason why I use Google Chrome is due to the amazing speed and stability of the browser. Firefox had been giving me issues constantly, as I pushed it too hard and ran into its well known memory leak issue, and so I was on the hunt for a new browser choice for a long time before Chrome came out. When Flash crashes on Firefox, all of your browser windows, and tabs crash along with it. Over on Chrome, only Flash crashes, and where there were once advertisements, movies, and games, I now see black boxes. Once I refresh the page, Flash re-loads, and I get to continue on without any real interruptions.

Chrome is similar to IE8 and Firefox in features and functionality, but blows both of them out of the water when it comes to speed. Chrome isn’t as expandable as Firefox yet, and so many people with specific tasks in mind or with plugin dependency might find it limiting.

Other Browser Choices

camino_logoVarious operating systems have different choices when it comes to web browsers. Very few people using the Mac or Linux operating system will ever open Internet Explorer, in part due to its limited availability, and also due to the stigma attached to the browser in those communities.

The choices for browsers for other operating systems are nearly as varied as the people that use them, though in the Linux world, Firefox seems to be one the front runners. In the Mac OS world, I assume that Safari would be most people’s number one choice, with Firefox probably high up in popularity as well. My favourite when using Mac OS is Camino, a Mac focused Mozilla browser, similar in many ways to Firefox.

There are, of course, dozens of other major browsers out in the market today, and I couldn’t list them all here but the browser you select should really fit your needs, work flow, and really, your only job as a responsible web user is to keep it updated.

What are your favourite web browsers and why? Do you still use Internet Explorer? Let us know why in the comments below.

Please no arguments over which one is best, personal experience decides favourites, not fan boy love.

Comments

  1. Chris says:

    Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t get to choose which browser they use at work, and I think that accounts for a large percentage of the continued IE6 usage out there.

    A lot of corporations spent a ton of money on custom intranet sites and web applications back when IE6 was the standard, but now their investment doesn’t work in any browser but IE6. So, they either have to pay a lot more money for new development or continue using something that they don’t think is broken in the first place.

    Luckily, Google has been working on something that just might fix the problem, called Chrome Frame. If you’re in charge of IT at your company and you can’t upgrade IE6, it might be worth checking into: http://code.google.com/chrome/chromeframe/

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