Microsoft Internet Explorer users have another security problem to worry about.
If you browse a hostile web site with Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.01, 5.5 or 6.0, attackers may be able to run their own programs on your computer. These programs may hijack your computer, divert and steal data, or do all other kinds of nasty things. Attacks using this new technique have already occurred, so Microsoft deems this a critical update. If you want to keep on using IE, you should go here to get the update. This Microsoft page also has links to more technical information about the latest problems.
There have been many such critical updates for Microsoft Internet Explorer. This has been the fortieth security bulletin for one or another Microsoft product this year. The company has been diligent about fixing their bugs, but new ones are always being discovered. You may want to consider extra security measures that will keep you safe while browsing the web.
Computer security experts often talk about “defenses in depth’. This means multiple security methods, so that if one fails the others will still supply protection. Some things to consider:
A firewall: this is software that manages the flow of information both into and out of your computer to the Internet. Windows XP has a rudimentary firewall. You may want to consider either Zone Alarm from ZoneLabs, or Norton Internet Security from Symantec. They both offer more protection.
Anti-virus software: This is a must nowadays. You must also keep your virus signatures up-to-date. Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus and Network Associates McAfee Anti-Virus are two choices here, and there are others as well.
A Router: if you have a cable modem or DSL connection to the Internet, your computer is connected to the Internet anytime it is on. A router is a hardware device that puts up what could be considered a “false front” – an attacker from the Internet will only be able to see your router, but not any computers behind it. A router will also allow computers to share an Internet connection. Wireless routers can also let you set up your own network to share printers and files, if you have a multiple computer household.
Use Mozilla – the open-source browser Mozilla is not immune to security problems and bugs. However, since most Internet attacks target the popular Microsoft software, they tend to leave Mozilla alone. Consider it security through obscurity.
Keeping your computers and your data safe is an on-going job. Cars need regular maintenance to run well, and computers and their software are no different. They need regular patching and updates too. At the BugBlog, I never run out of bugs, security or otherwise, to write about.