Death to Internet Explorer, please.

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Rant time...

People - it's 2006. The internet is no longer a "nice, quaint, fun, and friendly neighborhood." It's like a hybrid Compton/Detroit/Harlem ghetto, filled with slimy scumbags who want to hijack your computer, steal your personal information, and/or annoy the life out of you until you finally give-up and reformat (or replace) your computer.

And if you're browsing the internet with Internet Explorer, you're essentially walking through the worst neighborhood with your wallet open while skipping and whistling to a 1950's show tune. Internet Explorer is horrible - please, if you're using it, don't be surprised if you get inexplicable viruses or spyware, or other crap that bogs down or otherwise strangles your computer to death.

Now some of you Microsoft nazis will complain that there's nothing wrong with IE, and that any "popular" browser would be vulnerable to attack if enough people used it. And to that I say, "You're probably right," but that's no excuse to keep using a product that's known to be horribly insecure and a conduit for almost every evil doer in the virtual world.

Sure, other products like FireFox and Safari (for Apple) have a small handful of vulnerabilities... but that's just it - they have few potential loopholes. And when those loopholes are exposed, the developers patch them quickly. Microsoft waits days/weeks/months to patch things, which leaves your computer vulnerable for a longer period of time. Microsoft also often denies that vulnerabilities exist, claiming that many are "hypothetical" and/or "improbable." That's fine, but I've seen my fair share of computers suffer from an "improbable" virus, and the impact is the same as a "probable" virus... you're toast.

You M$ nazis will argue, "Yeah, but if Microsoft only had 8% of the world's users, they'd be as secure as Apple (or whomever)." To which I say... let's pretend you bank at the world's largest bank, and that bank gets robbed several times a day, each and every day. Sometimes the robbers get your money, other times they don't - you only read about the robberies. And rather than get stronger locks, or a better valut, the bank just renames the vault door as "restroom" and/or deploys new policies for its tellers that suggest the teller should try to question the robber before he makes off with the money... would you continue to bank with that bank? How many times would you need to get robbed before you moved on?

Please - do yourself a favor, and remember these simple rules when using your computer:

1) Trust no one, no matter what. Everyone is out to deceive you. Plain and simple - no ifs ands or buts. Don't open attachments via e-mail. Don't visit websites that "friends" send you links to, no matter how cute they promise to be. Don't believe for a single second that your ______ (insert: bank, credit card company, phone company, cable company, eBay, PayPal, etc) needs you to login to verify your account details, because it's most definitely a scam, plain and simple. And for the love of Pete, stop using Internet Explorer and Outlook.

2) When in doubt, see rule #1.

Within the past 3 days, I've had 4 people contact me with odd computer problems that all sound suspiciously like virus activity. Things disappear, things don't work properly, things are reformatting themselves, and so on, all "for no reason."

There is a reason - it's called Internet Explorer and Windows shoddy security controls.

Please, please, please - stop using Internet Explorer. Use FireFox, or Opera, or anything else... and stay current on your security updates/patches (a fulltime job with Windows). And when you get tired of getting beat down with viruses, worms, popups, browser hijackings, spyware, and so on, get a Mac or a Linux box. Your life will be much easier - trust me.

If you take nothing away from this rambling post, please remember this:

The internet is not a friendly place. It's a seedy, stinky, foul world with a few spots of glimmering good information. But otherwise, it's a scammer's haven, and there are plenty of predators out there just waiting for you to click their link or read their e-mail or download their fun "movie" or "greeting card" or whatever... 10 years ago, the internet was relatively safe... but that's not true any more. Use it with caution, and TRUST NO ONE, no matter what.

End of Rant.

(and I still hate Windows and Internet Explorer, so download and install FireFox today.)

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