Thursday, 21 January 2010

Is is finally time for Brighton Council to abandon Microsoft? Open Source Web browser use soars as security fears escalate

On Tuesday I reported that both the German and French governments had warned citizens to stop using Microsoft's Internet Explorer after it had emerged that a bug in the program had been exploited by hackers to breach data security for some users running the browser.

It has since emerged that the security breach at the heart of the warning was the chilling attempt to gain personal details of human rights activists in China - and could therefore be responsible for the execution, torture and imprisonment of Chinese activisit.

As the implications of computer software bugs go - this is about as big and scary as it gets really.

But despite the fact that UK politicians have finally started warning of the problem and calling for users to abandon the problem program in favour of cheaper, mopre secure alternatives - Lord Voldemort Mandelson steadfastly refuses to add the British government's voice to the chorus of oofficial warnings.

Meanwhile, users are flocking to open source alternatives anyway. Latest figures show that downloads of Mozilla's Firefox browser are have massively increased in recent days.

And, while Microsoft's engineers are working overtime to solve the security problem, another, potentially far more serious problem has emerged: some users of its Windows operating system could be vulnerable to hackers taking over their entire system.

It seems, for the US giant, anyway, it never rains - but it really pours. As a new project to use only freely available software promises to slash the price of home computing for millions, it seems that, perhaps now more than ever, could be the time to break free from Microsoft and Windows once and for all.

IT managers at Brighton and Hove Council: I hope you're listening. In the face of economic hardship, and increasing concerns about privacy and security, this city can't afford either software full of holes and bugs, or the exorbitant costs of Microsoft programs, much longer.

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