Should I dump Internet Explorer?

A question that's been hitting my inbox as regular as raindrops over the past few days:"Given all the negative press surrounding Internet Explorer lately, and some governments telling its citizens to stop using the browser, should I stop using Internet Explorer?"

A question that's been hitting my inbox as regular as raindrops over the past few days:

Given all the negative press surrounding Internet Explorer lately, and some governments telling its citizens to stop using the browser, should I stop using Internet Explorer?

I've been spending a lot of time and effort keeping up with this latest Internet Explorer vulnerability, which goes by many names but the most common being "Aurora" and I can't blame anyone for being confused. Part of the confusion is down to the fact that things are changing rapidly, and part of it is down to confusing information surrounding the vulnerability. Security is a complex matter and it can quickly get confusing.

OK, should you dump Internet Explorer? Well, if you are using an old version (IE6, IE7) then you really should. These are old, outdated browsers that you should make the break from. If you are running IE6 then you really need to do that as a matter of urgency. Just download IE8, right now. What are you waiting for?

If there's some reason why you can't or won't do that, then you should grab for yourself another browser and use that instead. You've plenty of choice - Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera are the top choices.

Running old, out of date browsers is very hazardous to your PC's health!!!

But what if you have been a good Windows user and you've updated to IE8. What then? Well, so far it seems that IE8 is safe. A security researcher claims to have found a way to make IE8 vulnerable, but this code isn't in the hands of the bad guys. So, you can rest easy. Sure, feel free to check out some of the other browsers if you want, but remember that vulnerabilities and patches are a way of life, and no matter what you use, you can't get away from that.

Note: My personal feeling is that people are safer if they move away from IE and adopt another browser (my favorite is Google's Chrome, which is sandboxed from the system, making it harder for hackers to get a foothold). But that said, browsers are a personal thing, and there's no point trying to force people to change. My goal is to make people safer, not push an ideology!

Also, remember that it's not just browsers that can make you vulnerable. Take this latest Adobe Shockwave vulnerability that might affect as many as 450 million PCs worldwide.

Finally, make sure that you have up-to-date antivirus installed. There's the free Microsoft Security Essentials, or my personal favorite, Sunbelt Software's VIPRE. Good antivirus software is your computing wingman and when the going gets tough, it's usually got your back covered.

Oh, and remember, use common sense at all times! Don't go installing things you don't know what they are, especially any codecs or audio/video related software you are offered. Stay out of the Internet dark alleys too, where malware is more prevalent.

Be careful out there!