Computer Crime Research Center


Switching to Mozilla Firefox, more advanced virus protection over Microsoft Internet Explorer

Date: December 02, 2005
By: Tayleigh Davis

Mozilla Firefox is literally catching fire with Internet users and college students around campus.

Many people are already switching to Firefox because it has several added features including extra virus protection, customized options and multiple browser tabs.

A big advantage of Firefox is its multiple browser option, enabling users to open several Web sites all within the same browser window. Users may click the tabs to get back and forth from each page, whereas, in Internet Explorer, multiple windows have to be opened.

Kari Chase, manager of the ECU web browser at Information Technology Computing Services said she likes Firefox because the Google search engine is built directly into the browser.

In Internet Explorer, the Google toolbar is built in separately. Firefox users are restricted to just Google. Different search engines are available including Yahoo, Ask Jeeves and Wikipedia.

Based on users' interests, the toolbar features a variety of extensions, some ranging from web blogging and entertainment to web developer tools and privacy and security.

Different themes for style and appearance of the web browser are also available.

"The theme is actually how the buttons look on the [browser]," said Chase.

"I have about five or six different themes on my computer."

The RSS feed is another added feature that sets Firefox apart from Internet Explorer. The feed shows updated articles from every Web site the user places in the bookmark list.

"I have [my Web sites] bookmarked, so that everyday when there's a new article out there, it shows up in my bookmark list," Chase said.

"I don't have to go to that sight to see if there's anything new."

Along with several Internet options and extensions, Firefox is also considered to have better security and virus protection than Internet Explorer.

Chase said she can permanently turn off pop-up windows, but if she does so in Internet Explorer, they still find a way to reappear.

"By default Firefox catches them a lot faster," Chase said.

When users are downloading information from Web sites, Firefox will also warn them if a Web site is secure by displaying a "lock" symbol in the URL.

Chase also recommends Firefox to students living off campus because they are more susceptible to viruses than students living on campus who are protected by Cisco Clean Access Agent.

"You can keep your virus protections more up-to-date [with Firefox]," Chase said.

It's important to have a secure Web site because people can also steal personal information when users fill out online forms.

John McCarron, a computer repair technician for ACE Support Center, prefers Firefox because the minimal pop-up displays give people a less chance of getting spyware.

Spyware is software made by publishers that allows them to snoop on your browsing activity, invade your privacy and flood you with horrible popup ads, according to the Dallas Morning News.

However, Charlie Justice, coordinator of student initiatives in ITCS, chooses Internet Explorer over Firefox because of recent security concerns.

"Firefox is good, and for a while people were saying it was more secure [than Internet Explorer], but recently because more people have been using it, more viruses and hackers have turned their attention to it," said Justice.

The Mozilla foundation which built Firefox is constantly upgrading security and fixing problems that may slow down the browser.

In some cases, Internet Explorer is more efficient, but with open source browsers Firefox loads more quickly and offers more options.

The only time Chase prefers Internet Explorer as opposed to Firefox is with Pirate-mail because it is operated by Microsoft technologies, which are compatible with Internet Explorer.

To fix this problem, Businessweek reported that the Mozilla foundation has organized a campaign to persuade Web sites to adopt open standards and welcome all browsers. Firefox would be welcome in this case.

Many people say Firefox is better than Internet Explore for designing webpage and Chase testifies to that because the widths and measurements on the webpage make it easier to line up information correctly.

"I love Firefox. I think it's great," Chase said.

According to a survey on, Firefox's usage share has increased compared to Internet Explorer, even though Firefox has taken in 12 percent of its shares compared to 85 percent by Internet Explorer. Open source browsers that allow Firefox show that its usage share increased nearly 3 percent since April compared to a 2 percent decrease in Internet Explorer usage.

As far as the future is concerned for Firefox, Chase said she has no doubt it will keep growing. There are also icons found on the Mozilla Web site that people can put on their websites to invite other users to Firefox.
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