Codan The Librarian

The Many Problems of Internet Explorer and Microsoft

Posted on: January 4, 2007

While it is understandable that Microsoft and Internet Explorer bear the brunt of hacker attacks, this report about how bad 2006 was for IE is unacceptable for the world’s most used browser.

Criminals specializing in Internet fraud continued to ply much of their trade with the aid of security flaws in the Microsoft browser last year. In 2006, the company issued patches to fix a total of four “zero-day” flaws in IE. Zero-day (or 0day) attacks are so named because software vendors have no time to develop a fix for the flaws before they are exploited by cyber crooks for financial or personal gain.

The first major flaw in a Windows program last year involved one that could be easily exploited via Internet Explorer. In late December 2005, experts tracked organized criminals hacking into sites and seeding them with code that installed password-stealing spyware on machines used by anyone who merely visited the sites with IE. Microsoft initially downplayed the severity of the attacks, until it became clear that the threat was fairly widespread and that thousands of customers had already been attacked in the span of a few days. The threat was seen as so severe that a large number of security experts urged users to download and install a patch produced by a third party until Microsoft developed an official fix.

How easy could it be for a pornographic site to install some special adware that enters someone’s PC and suddenly pop up crude pictures on a person’s screen. A friend of mine relayed that she spent some time on Toyota’s site, looking at a video of one of their trucks, when suddenly pornographic images popped on her screen. Certainly Toyota is not a company to hide pornography on their website. She was using Internet Explorer, though.

As the electronic resource librarian at LCCC, I spend most of my day on the internet. Using Firefox, I’ve never once had a problem on my computer, no adware concerns, and no sudden porn flying on my screen. I’m sure with more use, even Firefox will be attacked, but their code and their support seems far stronger than Microsoft’s. Microsoft is what it is due to its success at copying others. Who came up with a window version of an operating system? Certainly not Microsoft, and Microsoft’s first Windows attempt was horrendous, (though I guess the same can be said for most of their OS’s until XP, which is pretty decent).

In any case, I hope more and more PC users get educated on the Internet, and what is the better product. Not only does IE have a lot of security flaws, but it also tends to lag far behind on Internet and web design standards. How many times does a web designer have to add a special code in CSS to cover for IE’s lag?

You get lazy when you’re on top, Mr. Gates. Have you not learned this from history?

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1 Response to "The Many Problems of Internet Explorer and Microsoft"

IE is a pig to design for. The moment you crank out W3C-compliant code, IE requires a bunch of CSS hacks to make things look right again. Sadly, a lot of websites still require IE. I found the best way to deal with that is to install IETab for Firefox so that you can have selected websites render with the IE engine in a Firefox tab. Now I never have to launch IE again.

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