How to Choose a Safe Web Browser?

images-69Chances are you’re sitting at a computer right now that’s running some version of Microsoft Windows, and you’re browsing the web with some version of the browser that’s included with Windows – Internet Explorer (IE).

At home (or if you’re at work now), you likely have a similar setup – a Windows PC (or two) with Internet Explorer as your web browser. Not me. As a wired parent of teenagers who spend plenty of time on the Internet, I setup Firefox as the default browser on all four of our home computers (and my work one) to help prevent all that nasty malware from rearing its ugly head.

Certain Web Activities Can Harm Your PC

If you’re a parent of a teenager, you know all too well that today’s teens are very web savvy. They spend all kinds of time connecting with each other on Myspace, watching videos on YouTube, or playing games online. Most of these online activities are harmless to your PC, as there is typically nothing malicious or harmful in most of the more popular online areas that teenagers venture to.

However, if they’re attracted to those banner ads displaying the latest smiley icons, or a sweet new wallpaper they just gotta have, or some awesome online game, that’s where the trouble can start. These are just a few of many examples of the types of web activity that can harm your PC – which is were Firefox comes in.

A Brief History of Firefox

Firefox evolved from the Mozilla Application Suite, which evolved from a gone-by-the-wayside browser you may have heard of, Netscape Navigator. Firefox is open-source software, meaning the source code that makes up the application is publicly available to view, use, and modify with minimal or no restrictions. So Firefox evolved from Netscape and is open-source, how does any of this give Firefox an advantage over Internet Explorer? I’m getting to that…

Internet Explorer Vulnerabilities

Due mostly in part to its larger market share and popularity, IE is the main target of much of the malicious software that circulates around the web. I’ve spent hours cleaning and disinfecting spyware and adware from my own personal PCs and friends’ and family’s PCs. With nearly all of these infected PCs there was a common theme, browsing with IE.

Don’t get me wrong, you can use IE as your main web browser and not run into any issues. Think of Firefox as a little extra added protection – protection from the tendencies of most teens to sometimes stray off of the beaten path on the web. Why not add that little extra insurance of using Firefox to save yourself hours of trying to figure out how to clean that nasty stuff off of your PC.

Five Firefox Benefits

  1. Firefox includes an effective pop-up blocker that works very well.
  2. Built-in Google Toolbar and search box.
  3. It’s customizable – thousands of addons are readily available to enhance the standard version.
  4. Updates and patches are distributed automatically and installed easily.
  5. Tabbed browsing (which IE now has too).

I switched to Firefox about three years ago now, and have been directing other parents to do the same ever since. In my experience, PCs running Firefox as their primary web browser encounter fewer problems with viruses, spyware, and adware than those running IE.

Even though my teenage sons are still occasionally wandering off into some cool online game or are downloading a sweet screensaver, we now run into very few problems with any of our PCs, and I attribute much of this to Firefox. There’s a reason why it recently set the Guiness Book of World Records for the most software downloads in a single day!