Posted by: Administrator | August 18, 2011

The Web Browser

The verdict is out, or rather it has been out for some time now that Internet Explorer users are “the dumbest” or as was put across, have “lower than average IQ levels”. A study by AptiQuant, a Canadian Psychometric Consulting Company based in Vancouver said as much. They have, however, come out to clear the air saying the entire story was a hoax. Doubts have also emerged about the credibility of the report and indeed the company itself. Going by the coverage it was originally given by media organisations like BBC, CNN and Forbes just to name a few, and how quickly it spread however, there was definitely some nerve struck. Indeed diehard Internet Explorer users even threatened a lawsuit against AptiQuant for running the story.

Intelligence issues aside, web browsers have steadily been changing the way we view and interact with the internet. With advances like HTML 5, more advanced security features, graphics hardware acceleration and the cloud revolution, the trend is certainly geared towards getting more work done safely, and faster than before. The browser war is not likely to end any time soon with the major browsers Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer fighting for leadership position; A very welcome war indeed if only to raise the standards in technology and safety on the web for the average user.

On their part, however, the end users still have a lot to learn about web safety, browsers and the latest technology out there. Granted, things like how a particular browser renders JavaScript on a page, or how well it fares on this or that other test may be a tad too much for the average user who just wants to load a page. Browsing history, cookies and password saving on shared computers are another topic altogether. Consider this: you walk in to a cyber café wanting to check on your loan status for your HELB account. While waiting for the information to get to your email, you open up another tab and go to your Facebook or check on your twitter account. The minute you press the login button, a prompt comes up asking you whether you’d like your username and password saved for later. Naïve you would probably click ok but discerning you should decline then go to the browser options and make sure all internet history is cleared once you’re done with your session including form, cookie and password information.

The cyber café operator may not be running the latest version or the most up to date software products on that very computer you’re using and that anti-virus offering “total protection” is probably not worth its salt. This leaves you open to phishing scams, malicious scripts from compromised sites and a host of other attacks. Add to that the possibility of someone who knows where to go to find your password information since you so graciously agreed that it be saved for later and the next thing you know you’re getting attacked for Facebook posts and status updates you never even wrote! No idea how your account got hacked? Well, take a look at the settings on the browser’s options/wrench menu.

An even easier way for hackers to get into your account is all the traces you leave behind in the cookies that you don’t clear once you’re done with your session. Cookies store information about you and the sites that you request information from locally on your computer to speed up your browsing. If you filled a form with credit card details and other personal information then such details still reside in the cookies locally set. An attacker then uses a script to access such information (cross-site scripting, for example). Trojans are also stored this way and cause potentially more problems for your pc.

With the standards of technology standing where they are right now, perhaps the right method for enlightening users on the security features and flaws on browsers shouldn’t be through ridicule and publishing untoward reports but rather in education about not only the right browser choice but also basic fundamentals about how the internet operates.

Posted by Ape

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