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40. Many options out there if you want to change browser

By Mark Alberstat

It seems that as each week passes a new threat to Microsoft's Internet browser, Internet Explorer (IE), is discovered, reported and possibly patched.

In early July the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. computer emergency readiness team recommended, for security reasons, that people not use the browser. This announcement was made in reaction to a new threat / virus from Russia that can analyse keystrokes within Javascript on a website.

It is believed this latest threat was after credit card numbers.

Mac users can't feel overly secure either, as the IE version for the Mac has had vulnerabilities exposed, including one particularly nasty bug that can trick the secure website padlock.

With about 95 per cent of Internet users surfing with IE, the installed base for any of these attacks is enormous. You, however, do not have to be one of those vulnerable people.

Thanks to a healthy competitive programmer community, there are alternatives to IE and you may want to shut the door to attacks by simply changing your browser.

The list of alternative browsers has grown over the past few years and now includes: Netscape, Mozilla, FireFox, Opera and the newest kid on the block, SlimBrowser. All of these are easily found, downloaded and installed.

Of these IE alternatives, the most popular are Netscape and Mozilla. In fact, they are very closely related products, with Mozilla being an open-source version of Netscape.

Mozilla is currently in version 1.7 and features builds for Windows, Linux and Mac.

Two of Mozilla's most popular, and often copied, features are its tabbed viewing and pop-up blocking. Tabbed viewing allows users to have multiple sites, or windows, open, but only one instance of the program running.

Each new window opens in a separate tab, shown at the top of the browser. The pop-up blocker simply cuts down on the number of those annoying ads that seem to proliferate on the Internet. Sadly, IE is missing this feature.

In the early years of the browser wars, Netscape and IE were the only serious contenders. Netscape is still alive and well and currently on version 7.2. This version features tabbed browsing and easily integrates STOPzilla, a program add-on that helps prevent ad-ware, pop-ups and numerous other online annoyances.

If you want to look at two of the newest kids on the browser block, check out Mozilla's Firefox or Flashpeak's SlimBrowser.

Firefox is the latest award-winning product from the Mozilla labs. Being termed as the "next generation browser," Firefox features tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking, and a strong set of privacy tools that keep your Internet activity to yourself.

SlimBrowser is on version 3.99.006 and was released July 5, 2004. The program works with IE to bring you a faster, cleaner browser, something IE should have been long ago.

The following is a list of links to the software mentioned:

The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about computing, email If we use your question in a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.


The Mousepad Index


Originally published 8 August 2004


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