Opera claims victory over less secure browsers

Norwegian-based Opera Software said more than one million people have downloaded version 8.51 of its browser in the past week because they are concerned about security issues in alternatives, such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Norwegian-based Opera Software said more than one million people have downloaded version 8.51 of its browser in the past week because they are concerned about security issues in alternatives, such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Jon von Tetzchner, chief executive of Opera, said that consumers want a safer online shopping experience and the company is doing all it can to stay ahead of online criminals: "We do everything we can to keep our users safe. That means introducing innovations such as the yellow security bar and constantly reviewing and testing our browser for vulnerabilities. These are necessary steps to stay ahead of the most advanced cyber criminals".

However, the claim comes a week after Opera updated its browser because of a critical vulnerability was discovered that could allow an attacker to remotely take control of a user's system.

This has led industry observers to ask if the one million downloads could have come from people that were worried about the security of their Opera browser.

James Turner, security analyst at Frost & Sullivan Australia argues that Opera is not a loser even if all of last week's downloads were from Opera users updating their own browser.

"Even if all of those one million are repeat users the point is that they are repeat users and they are not walking away to another browser. For whatever reason, people are choosing to use Opera and security concerns may be propelling them," said Turner.

Turner said that people generally seem to be looking out for alternative browsers: "IE comes bundled with Microsoft but despite that we are getting huge numbers of people downloading Firefox and Opera. People are genuinely looking for alternatives and this is a classic case of the free market in action".

Last month, Peter Watson, chief security advisor at Microsoft Australia and New Zealand, told ZDNet Australia  that Microsoft did not get any pleasure from seeing flaws in its competitor's browsers.

"I don't think it creates any benefit for us or anybody in the ecosystem to turn around and say, 'it's good that this company has a whole load of security vulnerabilities'," said Watson at the time.

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