Network Security guide for the home or small business network – Part 14 – Alternative software



There are ways that risks can be avoided. Recently, there was what was called a zero-day exploit for Internet Explorer. As I write this, the exploit surfaced 3 weeks ago and tomorrow there will be a patch. The vulnerability would allow remote code execution through a vulnerability in the way javascript is handled. So, for that 3 week unpatched period, Internet Explorer in it’s default configuration is a sitting duck. Well, truth be told, there are other browser vulnerabilities, many unpatched. (That’s a common method for many spyware bugs to install.)


One possibility is to install a less targetted browser like Mozilla Firefox, or Opera. There are fewer known vulnerabilities for those browsers and they don’t seem to be as big targets as Internet Explorer. Will that always be the case? I don’t know, time will tell. It is definitely worth paying close attention to.

Another vector for viruses of course, is your mail program. Eudora is an alternative mail program as is Mozilla Thunderbird. In many cases moving to alternative software can lower your risk of being infested.

Likewise, a move to Apple or Linux can lower your exposure compared to Windows. You shouldn’t assume that those platforms will always be more secure. Ultimately the security of a platform comes down to much more as I hope this series is bringing to light.

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  • Microsoft December 2005 Security updates Sans has the tip that information on the critical Windows updates expected tomorrow from Microsoft has started to be released. MS 05-54: Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer This will hopefully patch the javascript issues... MS 05-55: Vulnerability in Windows Kernel Could Allow Elevation of Privilege. More later in the......
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