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9/27/2010 - PlanetMagpie, WOOF! Article
How a Web Browser Upgrade Makes Your Office Easier to Manage

Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox 4 Are Ready to Help Out

One of the main reasons to adopt new technology is to make working with computers easier. For the IT department, a big part of that is making systems administration more efficient.

This month, new Web browsers are helping out with that.

Wait, Web Browsers? How Would They Help IT Manage the Office?

Here's how: The Web is THE biggest risk to employee productivity. Period. Even if you don't allow social media or gaming, security threats never stop coming. So it makes sense to put up as many defenses as reasonably possible, right?

Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox 4 (both currently in beta) make managing an office easier by protecting against those security risks. There are new standards that close up holes. New graphics capabilities for better speeds. And new security tools against new threats.

In this WOOF! article we're discussing three updates in the two most popular Web browsers – Internet Explorer and Firefox. We'll give you an idea of what each update does, and its benefits to managing employee computers.

Update #1: HTML5 Support

Both main browsers, Firefox 4 and IE9, support the new HTML standard being introduced, HTML5. HTML5 allows for graphics, video and interactive capabilities written right into a webpage. Third-party plugins like Flash aren't needed; HTML5 will handle your video itself.

The fewer plugins you need, the fewer security risks you have. Think of plugins like smartphone extras. They're handy for certain things you want to do…but they can make the whole thing bigger & heavier.

Update #2: Hardware-Accelerated Graphics

Hardware graphics acceleration means that the video card's processor takes on more of the work when loading websites. This allows big webpages to load faster. (Video streaming, Web applications and server access all count as 'big webpages.') This also lightens up the load on the computer's main processor, so it can run other applications more easily.

Update #3: New Security Against New Threats

Firefox 4 has HSTS support. What's this? It's a protocol that switches your web surfing to a secure session by default when security is an issue.

What this means is – say someone sets up a fake PayPal website as a phishing scam. You get directed there by accident. Your browser will do one of two things. Either it will:

--Automatically move you to the REAL Paypal website, on a secure line.
OR
--Stop the fake website from loading, saving your PC (and potentially your whole office) from a possible identity theft.

Internet Explorer 9 weighs in on security with SmartScreen Filter protection. SmartScreen uses a three-part approach: anti-phishing protection, download "reputation" management, and ant-malware protection.
  1. Anti-phishing screens websites that may be malicious (trying to get your information from you, like the fake PayPal website). These are blocked by Internet Explorer, which notifies you of the risk.
  2. Download "reputation" helps cut down on excessive warnings when you're downloading safe files. And gives severe warnings if a file download could be dangerous to your computer.
  3. Anti-malware helps block unwanted/malicious software from getting onto the computer. It can block a whole website, or just the part that's trying to sneak software past your eyes.
With protections like these in place, Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox 4 both take some weight off your IT department's shoulders. And since the upgrades are free for each, there's no reason not to upgrade everyone in the office.

Download Internet Explorer 9 Beta: http://www.microsoft.com/ie
Download Firefox 4 Beta: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/beta/

P.S. - Internet Explorer 9 is ONLY available for Windows Vista and Windows 7. XP is not supported. If you run XP on office computers, you'll need to use Firefox 4.
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