By Leo Notenboom
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
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
Internet Explorer, on the other hand, is a special case. Use it or not, you
must keep it up to date.
Internet Explorer Whether You Want It Or Not
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
Internet Explorer will come up, whether you want it or not.
But at least it’s obvious.
Internet Explorer is More Than Internet Explorer
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.
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