Microsoft is touting the ability of its newest version of internet explorer to detect malware before it destroys your computer.
Perfect! Problem solved, right? Well, I'll use any excuse to celebrate, so sure, let's rejoice!. HOWEVER, I wouldn't tear down the firewall, or let the anti-virus protection expire just yet.
Neowin is pointing out some logistical flaws in Microsoft's claims, but even if they're mostly correct, Microsoft has pretty much made its newest browser the prime target for creators of every type of malware imaginable - from the annoying to the dangerous. Remember, not all malware results in a blue screen of death; some of it just tracks your web surfing habits, or steals your personal information. In most cases, you'll never know you've downloaded malware. Particularly not-brilliant was Microsoft's decision in its report to explain to the world exactly how it detects malware. That will make it just that much easier for hackers.
So, what it boils down to is that you're on your own when it comes to remembering not to download malware. The problem is that it usually doesn't come labeled as such. It usually comes in the form of a Facebook post or e-mail or Twitter update that appears to be from a friend. Or, it may come in the form of a web link on your favorite search engine to a site you're unfamiliar with. Occasionally, the sites you ARE familiar with get hacked, and you may download malware from a site you trust. And then there are those annoying pop-ups that offer to scan your computer for spyware - but they really are spyware themselves (don't ever download those, and if you find you can't click out of one, shut down your computer immediately).
Bottom line? If you're active online, there is no way to totally avoid encountering malware sites. Be careful where you surf, but be sure your firewall and virus protection are up-to-date!
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.