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October 20, 2004
Craptastic Software

People ask me why I use and recommend the Mozilla browsers, rather than Microsoft's Internet Explorer (or, as I am wont to call it, Internet Exploder.)

I'm a network and internetwork geek. It's been my living for the past 8 years or so. I've been working on the infrastructure of the internet since before 90% of Americans ever even heard of the "information superhighway."

As a professional network geek, I have long despised any Microsoft product that touches the network. They are unreliable, and in most cases are actually dangerous to the stability and security of the network.

All those viruses circulating out there? Zombies, trojan horses, browser hijackers...? Virtually all of them target specific problems in Windows, Outlook Express, Internet Explorer, or any combination thereof.

Part of this is simply because the evil SOBs who create the virii know that 90+% of people on the 'net are using Windows; it's what you might call a target-rich environment.

I think the main reason that Windows is exploited is because it's so damned easy. The fact that MS is slow to acknowledge problems and provide fixes doesn't help matters any.

I regularly receive advisories in my e-mail from CERT — the Computer Emergency Readiness Team. Advisories like Technical Cyber Security Alert TA04-293A, the headers of which I reproduce here:

Multiple Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Internet Explorer
Original release date: October 19, 2004
Last revised: --
Source: US-CERT

Systems Affected

Microsoft Windows systems running

  • Internet Explorer versions 5.01 and later; previous, unsupported versions of Internet Explorer may also be affected
  • Programs that use the WebBrowser ActiveX control (WebOC) or MSHTML rendering engine


Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) contains multiple vulnerabilities, the most severe of which could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the user running IE.

And so on.

That is why I run (and recommend) Mozilla on my PCs, and why I use Linux, except for one Windows machine.

Hey — a guy has to have his IL 2 Sturmovik: Forgotten Battles.

Posted by Russ at 12:27 AM, October 20, 2004 in Geekery

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That's great if you're a geek who knows how to do all that but what about the rest of us who aren't so computer savvy? It's hard enough figuring out how to fix Windblows problems (the Troubleshooting section is pretty good) but is there that kind of functionality in Linux?

Don't get me wrong, I think Bill Gates is Evil incarnate but until something else comes along that is as user friendly as Windows I'll take my chances and not keep any sensitive info on my hard drive.

Posted by: Ralph Gizzip at October 20, 2004 02:06 PM

Mozilla is good. Safari running on Mac OSX is gooder, at least for me.

Posted by: mike at October 20, 2004 04:30 PM

If you aren't computer-savvy, enable Windows Update's auto-updating and use Firefox for your web browsing. Also, run Spybot Search and Destroy about once a week. Those simple steps give you a pretty decent (if not bulletproof) safety margin.

Posted by: Ian S. at October 20, 2004 06:03 PM

That sounds like what I'm doing.

Windows XP Pro (I don't auto-update but do download them)
Cable broadband thru a 4 port router
Downloaded and run Spybot S&D
Using Mozilla 1.7.1 as my browswer and E-mail program

One thing I like about Mozilla is the pop-up blocker and Spam killer.

Posted by: Ralph Gizzip at October 21, 2004 07:04 PM

and the tabbed browsing, don't forget the tabbed browsing. Clicking on the links with the middle mouse button and having them load in a tabbed window while you continue reading is a wonderful.

Posted by: StinKerr [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2004 09:31 AM