The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team touched off a storm this week when it recommended for security reasons using browsers other than Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer.

As a web developer and internet/computer nerd, let me just agree with the Department of Homeland Security here. Using IE for your web browser (or using AOL for Windows or other ‘browsers’ which use IE for the display engine) is putting your computer at risk, aside from the fact that you’re using an inferior browser which hasn’t been seriously updated in four years and still doesn’t work right with basic web technologies like CSS.

I swear, it’s an uphill battle trying to make a website work on IE without breaking it in all the browsers that actually follow the rules. After I design a site, I have to go back and tweak it to work in IE because of Microsoft’s failure to read the W3C standards.

For Windows users, I recommend Mozilla Firefox. It’s simple, fast, and compatible with virtually all websites (on rare occasion you may run across some badly-coded monstrosity which requires IE, but it’s extremely rare). It also incorporates a perfect popup blocker, tabbed browsing (allows you to have multiple pages open in one window—it’s wonderful if you ever find yourself lost in browser windows), a good bookmarks manager, and more. It’s designed in a way that will be familiar and easy to use for people who have always used IE.

Give it a try, I think you’ll like it for all sorts of reasons beyond it merely closing the giant security hole that Microsoft calls “Internet Explorer.”

Windows users who are using Microsoft Outlook might also want to take a look at Mozilla Thunderbird, which is an email client that is getting rave reviews. It has a spam blocker and other neat things. I’m not personally recommending this, since I haven’t used it, but it’s worth trying out. Outlook has many of the same security holes as Internet Explorer.

As for we Mac users, we have Apple Safari for web browsing which is better than anything the competition has to offer (including the wonderful Firefox), and the great Apple Mail program. Some version of Mail has come with every version of Mac OS X since the beginning, Safari has come with all of them recently and is a free download for Mac OS X 10.2 or higher.

  • U.S. Steers Consumers Away From IE (EE Times via Yahoo! News [no longer available]).
Scott Bradford has been building web sites and using them to say what he thinks since 1995, which tended to get him in trouble with power-tripping assistant principals at the time. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University, but has spent most of his career (so far) working on public- and private-sector web sites. He is not a member of any political party, and brands himself an ‘independent constitutional conservative.’ In addition to holding down a day job and blogging about challenging subjects like politics, religion, and technology, Scott is also a devout Catholic, gun-owner, bike rider, and music lover with a wife, two cats, and a dog.