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Browsers and broadband

Is Firefox safe again?
I mentioned that Mozilla was working on fixes for the flaws reported in Firefox (Web page, 18 February). The most serious one could make “phishing” scams easier. Phishing attacks try to fool consumers into handing over sensitive information by creating legitimate-looking websites and email messages. They have become a major security concern.

Version 1.0.1 of Firefox is now available, and all Windows, MacOS X, and Linux users should get the upgrade immediately from www.mozilla.org. As a bonus, the software is now available in British English: if that page does not display the “English (British)” version, then go to www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/all.html to get it.

Should I stick with Internet Explorer now that IE7 has been announced?
Microsoft was going to wait for its next Windows release (not expected until 2006) before issuing a new version of Internet Explorer. It has now said that it will release a beta version of IE7 “this summer”. No firm date has yet been given for a proper new release. Meanwhile, more than 25 million copies of Firefox have now been downloaded — and the number is increasing by 250,000 every day. Why wait?

Is a product like Onspeed a good buy?
Not in my opinion, which is based on economics rather than technology. This product (see www.onspeed.com for details) costs £25 per year, and provides some degree of speed-up for ordinary web browsing. However, it is of little benefit for those really big downloads of already compressed files, for example, Windows updates. Where it can really be useful is in conjunction with mobile phones, where bandwidth is even more limited than on dial-up.

But the product is caught in the ever narrowing price gap between dial-up and broadband. I recommend anybody who is already paying £10 or more a month for a dial-up service to switch to broadband, which is available at about £15 a month. Even with some volume-usage limitations, the latter is better value. If you have a very low-cost dial-up account (for instance, a daytime-only one at about £5 a month), then this additional expense might be worth while.

What about those of us who still live beyond the reach of DSL or cable?
BT is working on that. See the article “WiMax may reach rural areas first” linked from news .zdnet.co.uk/

Is the UK now leader of the broadband world?
No, that honour belongs to South Korea. But the UK does lead the G7 countries in terms of availability, and comes third in competitiveness: 91 per cent of the population has the opportunity, and more than six million users are connected via some 150 service-providers. France, however, has the lowest pricing. See the Ovum report for details.

Simon Sarmiento is UK/Europe editor of Anglicans Online.

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