If your current default browser is Internet Explorer (for over 60 percent of you it is) you might want to start looking for some new internet surfing software.

Security flaws in Microsoft's Internet Explorer have been linked to the malicious Chinese-based cyber attacks on Google and more than 20 other companies that took place in December 2009.

Fears of copycat attacks have been circulating across the web, and many internet security firms are now suggesting users temporarily stop using Internet Explorer to avoid becoming a victim of similar attacks - at least until Microsoft develops a security patch.

Microsoft posted a statement regarding the security flaws on its blog on January 14 writing, "Based on our investigations into these attacks, as well as the investigations of others, we recently became aware that a vulnerability in Internet Explorer appears to be one of several attack mechanisms that were used in highly sophisticated and targeted attacks against several companies."

On January 15 the German government issued a statement recommending the temporary use of an alternative browser. France followed suit, advising against the use of all versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer in light of the attacks.

So what options do you have if you are an avid Internet Explorer fan and have never ventured onto the web on a competitor's browser? Actually, a lot.

There is a wide range of free, feature-rich internet browsers available to internet addicts and casual browsers that offer great (if not much better) alternatives to Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Below is a list of the four most popular alternatives to Internet Explorer:

1. Mozilla Firefox
Mozilla's Firefox browser has quickly become an industry favorite. With around 25 percent of the web browser market (in December 2009) the open source web browser incorporates tabbed browsing, advanced online security, password management, session restore, spell checking, one-click bookmarking, and a huge range of third-party add-ons that let you completely customize your browsing experience.
http://www.mozilla.com/firefox/

2. Google Chrome
Google Chrome was made available to Microsoft Windows users in a public beta during 2008. A Mac version appeared in December 2009. Google's Chrome has been dubbed the 'Speedy Gonzales' of web browsers. It sports sophisticated security features and keeps a blacklist of phishing and malware sites, warning users before they visit sites suspected of being harmful to their computer. The browser combines the search and address bars into one for a cleaner (and more practical) graphical user interface and enables customers to completely stylize the browser with artist-created themes.
http://www.google.com/chrome

3. Opera
Opera boasts re-sizable thumbnail tab browsing, Opera Turbo for high-speed browsing on slow internet connections, built-in email client, an in-browser spell checker, a real page zoom that lets you hone in on tiny fonts and pictures, and automatic security update downloading for safer browsing. Users can also synchronize personal data and browser settings over the web enabling for a personalized browsing experience across a range of different devices.
http://www.opera.com/browser/

4. Safari
Safari is Apple's proprietary internet browser but that web-browsing platform can also be used on Windows-based PCs. The browser features a VoiceOver Screen reader that can read text on any website to you, enhanced keyboard navigation for mouse-free browsing, full-page zoom, synchronized bookmarks and integrated bookmarks bar, automatic identification of your favorite websites displayed in graphic thumbnails, tabbed browsing, spell checking, grammar checking, built-in RSS reader, parental controls, pop-up blocking and advanced security and privacy.
http://www.apple.com/safari/

Have a look at TopTenREVIEWS' top ten list of internet browsers for a full run down on the features, functions and user ratings for the top ten most popular browsers. Site: http://internet-browser-review.toptenreviews.com/

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