Both Apple's Safari and Opera Software's Opera browsers have come under a bit of fire by Thomas Duebendorfer of Google Switzerland and Stefan Frei of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The two recently published a research paper on "Why Silent Updates Boost Security," noting deficiencies in how both aforementioned browsers go about rolling out security updates.
According to the paper, just 53 percent of users surfing with a 3.x version of Safari have applied a new update within the past three weeks, and only 33 percent of users had updated to version 3.2.1 three weeks after it had been released. The paper noted that Opera will check for updates weekly, but installing them requires "serious user activity," as the update follows the same procedure as if the installing Opera for first time.
"Opera browser users apparently don't update frequently," the researchers wrote. "After three weeks of a new release, a disappointing maximum of 24 percent active daily users of Opera 9.x have the newest Opera browser installed. It's a pity that 76 percent of Opera 9.x users currently don't benefit from the security improvements and new features of new Opera versions with three weeks of its release."
The paper went on to say that engineering time would be better spent on increasing update effectiveness rather than working on new features.
"All in all, the poor update effectiveness of Apple Safari and Opera gives attackers plenty of time to use known exploits to attacker users of outdated browsers," the researchers concluded.
A lot has changed in the browser landscape over the past 15 years, including some, like Netscape Navigator, going by the wayside. During that time, Opera has grown into one of the most web compliant browsers around, was one of the first to implement tabbed browsing, and introduced mouse gestures way back in 2001.
"Geir and I knew the web would forever change how people live, work, and play -- the web browser would be the tool to enable that transformation," said Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera. "Today, I am humbled by what our company, together with the worldwide community of Opera users, has achieved. In the next 15 years, billions of people will jon the web. I am confident we will give them even more reasons to choose Opera."
Outside of the desktop, Opera has been used in both the Nintendo DS and on the Wii. A mobile version of the browser -- Opera Mobile -- has also found a home on several smartphones and PDAs, as well as Opera Mini being used on many mobile phones.
You can read more about what makes Opera tick in our recent Browser Battle feature, right after you wish it a happy 15th birthday.
The web browser is probably the most essential application on your PC; there is no better practical way of staying connected to news, your friends, and most importantly, the lulz. But whether you’re using Internet Explorer or newly minted Chrome, each of today's popular web browsers has different strengths and weaknesses. Mozilla Firefox is feature-heavy and relatively fast, but can get terribly unwieldy when crammed with juicy add-ons. The newest version of the once dominant Internet Explorer is a quantum leap above previous buggy versions, but remains slow. And while both Opera and Google Chrome are blazingly fast, they currently lack customization.
No matter which browser you use, you want it to fit your personal needs and tastes. With this guide, we will show you the essential initial tweaks everyone should make to “awesomize” their browser. Whether it’s accelerating browser page-load performance, boosting security, or just improving the look of the interface, we teach you the tweaks that we think should be implemented the first time you start up a browser after installation.
We cover comprehensive step-by-step instructions for Internet Explorer 8, Mozilla Firefox 3, Opera 9, and Google Chrome, starting off with general web optimization tips. So jump into the guide and start tweaking your web browser!
Microsoft's latest browser, Internet Explorer 8, has gotten mixed reviews from MaximumPC.com readers (see comments here and here), but one question that's hard for any individual user to answer about any browser is "how secure is it?"
To find out, Microsoft asked NSS Labs to pit IE8 RC1 against its predecessor, IE7, as well as the following third-party browsers: Firefox 3.0.7, Safari 3.2, Chrome 1.0.154, and Opera 9.64. The objective: find out which browser did the best job at handling so-called social-engineering malware sites - the ones that try to con you into downloading malware disguised as something else ("Adobe Flash update," anyone?).
ComputerWorldreports that IE8 did the best job of fending off attacks from 492 malware-distributing websites, blocking 69% of attacks (details here [PDF link]). If you're not using IE8, join us after the jump to learn how your favorite browser fared.
Opera’s latest release, dubbed Opera Turbo, touts the ability to use the company’s own server to compress the data transferred by web sites, allowing users on slow Internet connections to surf at a reasonable speed.
According to Opera’s Roberto Mateu, Opera Turbo allows a person’s PC to grab data not just from the site, but also from their very own servers that can compress that site’s text and images by up to 80 percent. It’s recommended that people on connections slower than 100Kbps use the program for optimal results.
You can download Opera Turbo here, from Opera’s site.
Anyone who may have thought the death of Netscape would signal the end of the browser wars, boy were they mistaken. In fact, it could be argued that it was at that point it all began. It didn't take long for Mozilla's Firefox to emerge from Netscape Navigator's ashes, and over time, Firefox would win over enthusiasts with a potent combination of speed, security, and an unprecedented level of customization.
But what started as a two-man battle is quickly growing into all-out warfare. Prepare to be overwhelmed by an onslaught of new browser releases in the coming months as Microsoft, Mozilla, Apple, Opera Software, and Google all vie to provide your vehicle for navigating the web. Each one brings something new to the table, whether it be blazing fast performance or a unique feature-set. Don't worry if you haven't been paying attention - we jump in the trenches with whole lot of them and get to know each one on a personal basis.
Hit the jump to find out everything there is to know about the browsers of today and tomorrow!
Upon the release of the Safari 4 Beta, Apple was boasting some mighty impressive speeds. Now, thanks to some extensive testing, it looks like the boys down in Cupertino deserve a pat on the back, with their browser clocking in at a staggering 42 times faster than Internet Explorer 7.
Most surprising, is that Apple’s latest addition was able to beat out Google’s Chrome (the proclaimed “Speed King”) in testing, along with Firefox 3, Opera 9.6 and Mozilla’s developmental Minefield. The tests were conducted on both a PC running XP SP2, and a Mac running OS X 10.6 with all of the latest updates applied.
If you’re looking to check out the full results of the speed testing, check them out here.
Although Microsoft is concerned about the likelihood of EU requiring it to bundle other browsers with Windows, Firefox architect Mike Connor isn’t exulting. He, personally, despises the idea of other browsers, including Mozilla Firefox, being packaged with Windows. Connor told PC Pro in an interview,” The choice [when installing Windows] would be weird. There's no good UI [user interface] for that.” Connor’s views on this particular issue are his alone and should not be construed as Mozilla’s official line.
He then proceeded to take Opera to task for having complained to the EU about Microsoft’s bundling of IE with Windows. Connor thinks that the quality of the product is paramount and bundling doesn’t necessarily lead to market share. He labeled Opera – based on other people’s feedback – a “geeky browser” that is difficult to use.
As it turns out, those of us responsible enough to have a computer generally aren’t responsible enough to keep ourselves safe online. Sure, we might get Norton or McAfee at checkout, but that’s generally the easiest step to take. When it comes to surfing the net, if the browser doesn’t update automatically, we probably won’t take the time to update it on our own.
At least, that’s what a study by a pair of Swiss academics and a Google employee revealed. The study, which ran Google results from January 2007 to April 2008, revealed that as a general whole PC users are reluctant to swap software. The swap from IE6 to 7 came gradually, with a primary boost from sales of new PCs with Windows Vista (and IE7) preinstalled. Mac users “seemed more willing to live on the cutting edge, as the Safari 3 beta release was accompanied by a major jump.”
To security conscious users Mozilla’s Firefox came out on top. Its self-updating nature made it a favorite, opposed to others like Opera, which have an update that basically functions as a manual download followed by a new install.
The analysis suggests that most users of web browsers aren’t filled with thoughts of Internet security, but rather with thoughts of convenience. If you’re interested in checking out the study for yourself, you can be sure to check it out in its entirety, here.
Once again, Internet Explorer (aka "Internet Exploder") has been attacked through a "zero-day" remote code execution vulnerability. That might not seem like MaximumPC.com-worthy news, except for two factors: the flaw is affecting thousands of websites, and this time, it isn't just Firefox fans who are saying "time to switch browsers, already!" - security experts at Trend Micro, the Spamhaus Project, and the UK's PC Pro magazine are all recommending making a switch, according to the BBC. And here's why:
The flaw in Microsoft's Internet Explorer could allow criminals to take control of people's computers and steal their passwords, internet experts say.
Switching Browsers? Choices Abound!
Attacks against IE7 have been verified, but all versions of IE (including IE 8 Beta 2) have the same underlying vulnerability; a vulnerability not present in IE's competitors (Firefox, Opera, Chrome, and Safari). Switching browsers makes sense for most web surfing, but, alas, some websites and (of course) Windows Update and Microsoft Update for Windows XP won't work with anything but IE.
Redmond Readies Security Update
Since the vulnerability was detected on December 10th, Microsoft code jockeys have been working hard to patch the flaw (Redmond doesn't want you to switch, naturally, and given the way that IE and Windows work together, a broken IE isn't good for anybody), and a patch will be available tomorrow (December 17th) for all versions of IE from 5.01 up, applying to all versions of Windows and Windows Server from Windows 2000 on up. It's rare for Microsoft to perform a security update between Patch Tuesdays, but when a "Critical" vulnerability (the most dangerous category of vulnerability) is discovered, there's no time to waste.
If you must use IE and you're looking for workarounds until you can get the update, join us after the jump for details.