Internet Explorer is Microsoft’s world wide web browser, and the name for a set of Internet-based technologies that provide browsing, email, collaboration and multimedia features to millions of people around the world. It’s a four-year old product that has received glowing reviews from end users and the media, harsh criticism from Microsoft’s competitors and the anti-Microsoft crowd, and it is one of the cornerstones of an ongoing anti-trust trial that the Department of Justice has brought against Microsoft. It remains a testament to Microsoft’s ability to turn it’s product strategy on a dime, it is used by millions upon millions of users navigate the World Wide Web, and it has emerged the victor in the long-standing browser wars with Microsoft’s competitor, Netscape Corporation.
To properly understand the security aspects surrounding Internet Explorer, I believe one should begin with a historical perspective. This is important for two reasons. First, given the many different released versions of Internet Explorer, you need to determine where you are in the Internet Explorer product timeline. Only then will you be able to determine what security issues you’re facing and what you can do about them. Second, and more importantly, Internet Explorer is here to stay. Microsoft has forever interwoven the Internet Explorer suite of products and set of technologies into its Windows, Office and BackOffice family product lines. There are over 200 million Windows users, and I don’t think Windows is going to disappear any time soon.