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Using a browser other than Internet Explorer is very common and for many different reasons. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean you can ignore IE.
I keep seeing where hijacking, vulnerabilities, infections, etc., of various applications are prevalent. The latest one is another IE vulnerability; among other things. I believe there is a manual work-around for IE but no patch has been issued. I have IE8 installed. I use primarily Firefox (v3.6.13). My question is this ... am I still vulnerable to attach(s) although I do not use IE8; or whichever application may be installed on my computer? Thanks and good work!
In general if you don't have or use a particular piece of software then you can safely ignore the updates and or vulnerability notifications that you might run across.
Internet Explorer, on the other hand, is a special case. Use it or not, you must keep it up to date.
The most obvious scenarios are these:
Some websites work only with Internet Explorer. As IE's market share declines this is less common, but since businesses can count on IE being on every Windows machine they'll sometimes simply take the easy way out and worry only about IE when designing their web site. Want to visit their site? You'll have to fire up IE.
Some software will automatically fire up Internet Explorer if you use online help or "Visit our website" types of features. Frequently they'll use IE even when it isn't your default browser.
There's little to be done in cases like this, other than to be slightly annoyed.
Internet Explorer will come up, whether you want it or not.
But at least it's obvious.
The problem is actually more complex, albeit it conceptually fairly simple: Internet Explorer is found in more places than just Internet Explorer.
IE is comprised of several components - an HTML rendering engine, internet access components, bookmarking functionality and so on. Perhaps the most important, though, is that HTML rendering engine.
I'll use that as my example.
When you visit a web page the contents of the web page are described in HyperText Markup Language, or HTML. Everything from references to images to the highlighting of words is specified in HTML. The rendering engine's job is to read that HTML, interpret it and make things appear as instructed.
For example, when the rendering engine sees "<strong>this should be bold</strong>" as HTML input, it produces "this should be bold" as its output displayed in the browser.
Considering the scope of all that can be described in HTML, the rendering engine is a pretty complex and large piece of work.
HTML is also a fairly common markup language used in many more places that just web pages. Email, for example, is commonly in HTML these days, as are online help documents and even some software user interfaces.
It sure would be nice if we didn't have to create an entirely new HTML rendering engine for each different piece of software that might need to use one.
Well, that's exactly the situation we're faced with: the HTML rendering engine that we consider to be part of Internet Explorer is more properly a component of Windows itself. Email programs, help programs and all sorts of other programs may well be using the "guts" of Internet Explorer when they display their content.
Even though you might not be using Internet Explorer, you're still using Internet Explorer.
The most surprising cases are some of the "alternative" browsers themselves. While Firefox, Chrome and many others do indeed have their own independent rendering engines, some do not. Maxthon, for example, simply places its own user interface and feature set around the Internet Explorer HTML rendering engine.
The bottom line to all this is indeed very simple: like it or not, you're using IE somewhere. As a result you'll want to make sure and keep it updated with all the latest security patches as they're made available.
You may do most of your web browsing using other tools, and that's just fine, but IE remains on your system, and remains a potential point of entry for malware to exploit.
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