Take steps to maintain security

Published 10:44 am Thursday, October 14, 2010


For users of the web — and isn’t that almost everyone these days? — some careful thought about security might be in order.

The newspaper USA Today reported that software maker Microsoft had announced on Tuesday that it was issuing a record number of patches, including several critical updates, for for its popular web browser, Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8. Overall, Microsoft issued 49 patches to fix 81 vulnerabilities in a number of its products. “Vulnerabilities” mean flaws in software that internet hackers could exploit.

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Internet Explorer reads websites differently from nearly every other browser, and errors encountered while using IE a lot of times do not exist in other browsers. Plus, as indicated in Microsoft’s report, IE can leave computers susceptible to viruses and spyware. Some of these problems have been alleviated in Internet Explorer 8 (and Microsoft is in the process of releasing its ninth edition), but until IE makes major changes, those who surf the Internet might consider downloading a different browser, such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Apple’s Safari. All are free and perform better than Explorer.

While the vast majority of Internet viewers use a version of Internet Explorer — including 68 percent of www.austindailyherald.com visitors during September — bigger doesn’t always mean better. In fact, hackers often target the most-used software.

Download one of the alternative browsers. They’re easy to install, and don’t require the uninstallation of Internet Explorer. We hope Microsoft soon finds a more permanent and sweeping method of securing its web browser.