Surfing the Internet safely entails not only handling of your email, but safe management of where you go and how you get there. Your choice of Internet browser may or may not help you in this endeavor. Internet Explorer has the worst safety track record to date, and this author has removed trojans and rootkits from computers running IE8 and 9. How did these users get infected using Microsoft’s supposedly secure browser? Drive-by installations are still possible due to how IE handles allowing third-party code to integrate with the browser. This is done one of two ways,Third-party Extensions, and ActiveX. Both of these are on by default, and it doesn’t take much for cyber criminals to write code causing your browser to install their threat if you hit a website they have injected their code into.
Firefox doesn’t have the same issue with third-party extensions although you can install add-ons if you wish. But one of those add-ons is an ActiveX plug-in, placing Firefox on the slightly suspect list for this author. Firefox is safer than IE, but avoid installing the Active-X plug-in if you can!
Chrome, Safari and Opera are other browser choices that can make your browsing safer online. At this time I am unable to recommend Microsoft’s Internet Explorer no matter the version number. Simply due to the fact that call-outs to remove malware still involve users going online using only IE.
When you visit websites online, you want to ensure you are safe. AVG has a link scanner, WOT (Web of Trust) has a website rating system, Opera has a color-coded security indicator and will block a website it thinks will infect your computer. I use Opera and have been met with this warning a couple times. It was both startling and comforting! Other companies are now starting to come out with ways to warn you as you surf the Internet.
Coded efforts to keep you safe are only half the answer to safe surfing online. The other half of the equation relies on you to make wise choices. We’ll look at some of those choices next time.