Internet Explorer: Internet Exploited?

By Michael Levy
July 06, 2005

Internet Explorer is used among over 90% of Internet users everyday, whether it be for looking at sites, doing their online banking or reading articles, but what you might not see is what can get you.

Over the past week or two, Internet Explorer has been riddled with bad news, Download.Ject vulnerability especially is one of the top issues going around right now. Download.Ject is exploits a vulnerability within Internet Explorer that allows it to automatically download a keylogger without you knowing it.

Keyloggers are pieces of software that can record all your keystrokes, whether it is over instant messengers, Internet Explorer or any other program you might be using on the Internet. Download.Ject only records keystrokes for certain sites, for example banking sites, stock trading sites and whatever the creator deems valuable.

It is not really easy to remove keylogger software because if you don't notice anything weird going on how will you know if you have it or not?

Although Microsoft did recently release a patch for Download.Ject, this does not address the whole issue as stated in this article. The vulnerability is somewhat addressed, but it is only part of the problem being addressed, meaning that who knows how much longer will it take to get around this patch, or affect the other vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer.

Dialers: You might not know who you're really dialed in to


Another popular vulnerability with Internet Explorer is autodialers. Yes, you can get affected by autodialers via dialup modem. What you think you might be actually closing an innocent popup, you might be infact downloading and installed an autodialer. What an autodialer does is disconnect you from your connection and dials into a long-distance phone number at an outrageous price and costing you tons of money.

A popup blocker could help prevent these occurances from happening, which is ofcourse not part of Internet Explorer but there are tons of popup blockers that can be downloaded for this site.

Why are updates so slow?

Security updates are slow because Internet Explorer hasn't been in development for over 2 years. If it was in development, patches would probably be released much faster. The vulnerabilities being discovered today were never thought of or in existence back in the day that IE was still .fresh out of the box..

As Internet technologies modernized, Internet Explorer didn't. Other browsers did evolve and webmasters are taking advantage of the fact that they can offer something different to browsers that are being updated.

What are the alternatives to Internet Explorer?

There are not that many alternatives to Internet Explorer when it comes to the web on the Windows side of things, although not many but they are great replacements.
Opera: Sleek fast competitor to Internet Explorer that has a lot of features like email, IRC and more. This is adware meaning that it will display ads at the top of the screen. For more information go to Opera.com.

Mozilla FireFox: Sleek browser with some nice features such as tabbed browsing, popup blocking included (like in Opera). For More information: Mozilla.org. Absolutely Free!

Mozilla Browser: More features than FireFox, included email program and much more for more information: Mozilla.org. Absolutely Free!
But I like Internet Explorer what can I do to protect myself?

Well if you don't want to try the free alternative browsers, you can try downloading programs to protect your computer; which seems more of a hassle. What you do need is the following: Antivirus software, popup blocker so that you don't accidentally infect yourself with Download.Ject, spyware removing program such as Adaware, SpyBot Search and Destroy.

These programs should protect you from most vulnerabilities that can occur from using Internet Explorer, but also another important step, RUN WINDOWS UPDATE! Many of these vulnerabilities can be prevented by keeping your Windows machine updated with the latest patches for Windows, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express and other programs that access the net from Microsoft. Using Windows Update on a frequent basis, every other day for example, can keep most vulnerabilities closed thus improving your security.

Conclusion

It is sad to see the malicious viruses that are out there today. Download.Ject can ruin you financially by getting a hold of your passwords for your online backing account or stock trading account. The alternative browsers from Mozilla and Opera will allow you to login to your banking sites without a problem. I for one only use Internet Explorer just to run Windows Update. Maybe it is time for you to consider the alternative as your main browser from now on, keep yourself with peace of mind and not worry about these malicious programs out there.


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