Oct 3 2004

Firefox is the solution to Spyware

Several months ago I had a massive spyware problem. Today, I have none.

The solution – I replaced Internet Explorer with Firefox. That’s it. We’re better (after cleaning up my machine with Spybot – which is free.)

Before switching to Firefox, I went through the cycle of hell of trying the various anti-spyware programs while continuing to use IE. None of them worked – in most cases I’d get rid of “some” of the spyware on my computer, but within 24 hours it’d be back. The daily scans were time consuming (and often ridiculous – all my GOOD cookies would get deleted, IE settings would get changed, random weird things that never happened before would start happening, and I was constantly downloading “updates” that – in many cases – seemed worse than their predecessor. I played with the three most popular – Adaware, Pest Patrol, and Spy Sweeper – with no real satisfaction. I kept coming back to Spybot as the only one that consistently cleaned everything up, although it just got bad again within a day or two.

Ross (my IT guy) told me to try Firefox. I did. Problem solved. Within a week I was totally addicted to Firefox and my spyware problems were completely gone.

Last week, Bill Gates was quoted as saying “This malware thing is so bad,” he said in a speech at the Computer History Museum here. “Now that’s the one that has us really needing to jump in.” “I have had malware, (adware), that crap” on some home machines, he said.

After seeing this quote, I decided to run Spybot on my home machine and see what was on there. I hadn’t done this in a month. The result – I had three “bad cookies” – all benign. Obviously, Gates quote (and revelation) is hugely ironic since the vast majority of spyware is infecting machines due to security holes (and features) of Internet Explorer. I imagine that some of the spyware nasties will target Firefox as it gets more popular (there have already been a few mentions about Firefox security holes that got plugged quickly), but so far my personal experience has been remarkably positive.

I’ve used IE since version 3. I’m a loyal and happy Microsoft customer and partner (many of my companies are partners with Microsoft and I’ve always been a huge Microsoft fan.) But – I’m done with IE for now. And – thankfully – I’m done with the spyware circle of hell – including having to deal with all the anti-spyware programs on the market that don’t really work.

For now.