Best Web Browser

By Howard Leighty of Future Solutions Now Computer Repair

The above question arises because of Internet security concerns over hackers and malware.
I tell folks that hackers and malware writers prefer to spend their time attacking browsers that
have the largest market share of users. Hackers do not wish to waste their time and effort
attacking a product that is rarely used or has very limited market share. There is no joy or
satisfaction in attacking a product with less than 1% market share. Like, who cares?

Some computer security specialists make a scientific career out of hacking. There is even an
annual convention in which the world’s best hacking experts gather to compete with one
another for cash prizes for being the first to successfully hack one or another software target
in sort of a modern day high-tech “capture the flag” contest. For more about this contest, see
Computer Hacking Contest

Web Browsers ChartThere is a reason why Internet Explorer gets the most attacks. Internet Explorer is the most widely used browser everywhere in the world. Millions of people use Internet Explorer, and thousands of other people, ranging from the curious to the criminal, try to hack Internet Explorer vulnerabilities. See the graph showing the relative utilization of various browsers.

Based only on relative market share, Opera is last in popularity, thus arguing for Opera as being highest in operational safety by being an undesirable target for hackers because of a very low number of users.

The number and variety of attacks on a particular browser has little or nothing to do with the intrinsic strength or weakness of a particular product or browser. All browsers have their own unique vulnerabilities. In short, there is no real safe harbor. Any browser can be hacked.

In the same way that sailors of yore avoided pirates by steering away from the most common
sea lanes, modern computer users can do a number of things that can enhance (but not assure) their safety.
Among these defenses, the use of a strong antivirus program is mandatory. My preference is
to avoid TrendMicro, McAfee and Norton products, not because they are weak or bad, but because they cause the computer to run very slowly, often making the cure worse than the disease. Those three products also disable the Windows Firewall and substitute their own firewall. Some IT guys will say that the 3rd party non-Windows firewalls are superior, and maybe they are. But in my view they come at too high a price if we must tolerate high intensity CPU usage by the security program such that it slows the computer.

My current favorite antivirus tool is Avast 5.x. The free version is for non-commercial use by home users. The paid version is for business and commercial users. The price is cheap when you consider the costs of technical labor to remove a nasty malware infection.

Also important is avoiding websites that are known to be risky or that are of a similar type as other sites known to be risky. In the same way that terrorists will detonate their bombs where there is a large gathering of people, hackers will launch their malware from websites that have large gatherings of users. Consider as being risky any of the various popular sites:

  • porn sites
  • dating sites
  • gambling sites
  • gaming sites
  • social networking sites
  • file sharing sites