Can there be life without Internet Explorer?

computer_security_101

There’s no easy answer.

Warnings regarding vulnerability CVE-2014-1776 have been issued for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) versions 6 through 11 (which is to say, virtually all versions in operation today). The Department of Homeland Security has recommended users avoid running Internet Explorer until an effective patch is fixed.

But, is it that simple?

IE is embedded into and is the default browsing application for all Microsoft Operating Systems. I’d wager the vast majority of users never change that. Cases may remain (eg. Spell checking in Office, launching Help files, etc.) in which the user has no choice.

And, of course, this isn’t limited to desktops and laptops – there are tablets and smartphones with the same vulnerability.

Back when browsers used to cost money (remember?) and had varying propensities for crashing computers, this was a conscious choice. Now, its click (or touch) a hyperlink and launch IE without a second thought…for most people.

I’ve utilized Google Chrome for the majority of browsing activities since its release, but the way a user now logs into all of Google instead of just Gmail (and is, therefore, less private) has me reluctant to use it across the board. I’ve also witnessed some CPU run-away from Chrome sessions – especially with the recently bloated Google Maps.

Mozilla Firefox is a capable browser and will, at least for the time being, replace IE for my non-Chrome tasks. That said, it’s a bit like attempting to write with one’s opposite hand.

Opera has been o.k., except for the interface minimizations found in recent versions. Developers, please – if you’re going to “simplify” an interface, provide a quick and easy way to access the same level of control as previous versions.

My only Safari experience is with my wife’s iPad. Don’t think I’ll be installing the Windows version just yet.

The manner, scope and speed with which Microsoft resolves this issue will speak volumes to its commitment to its customers’ security.

Patches should be retroactive to Windows XP, in spite of the expired support deadline. To deny those users a fix would seem mercenary.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to those who fought the “browser wars” – whether for noble or selfish reasons – and to those who champion Open Source, Net Neutrality and otherwise tilt at windmills. Because of them, we have options today.

Will I return to Internet Explorer? Well, yes, whenever I need to retrieve a bookmark and in case any site absolutely refuses to work with any other browser.

Dave

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About Dave Pluke

Dave Pluke served as "the man behind the curtain" (Principal and VP of Technology) of a successful Structural Engineering firm for over 2 decades. Overseeing the transition from two, stand-alone 80286 Personal Computers, through Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) and Design to a fully networked, Building Information Modeling (BIM) integrated environment has provided plenty of "life lessons" (sounds better than "battle scars", doesn't it?). This blog's purpose is to share those experiences and apply lessons learned to better assist meeting the challenges of the future.
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One Response to Can there be life without Internet Explorer?

  1. Dave Pluke says:

    UPDATE: Microsoft stepped up to the plate and:

    a) Released a patch for Internet Explorer in advance of their normally scheduled update cycle

    -and-

    b) Made the patch retroactive to WindowsXP.

    For that, we thank you, Microsoft.

    Dave

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