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So, there are lots and lots of less popular browsers out there that use a well known rendering engine. For example, IE7Pro or Epiphany.

I've wondered about the safety of these browsers; sure, they have the same rendering core, but lots of differences otherwise.

Could there be unaddressed vulnerabilities lurking in these browsers because they're not as popular and don't get as much review?

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What sort of security do you believe an HTML rendering engine needs to provide? – Hasaan Chop Nov 21 '09 at 0:35
I'm not actually understanding the question. What are you questioning the security of? – Sasha Chedygov Nov 21 '09 at 0:36
up vote 2 down vote accepted

The alternative browsers are generally about as secure as the 'non-alternative browsers'; the better known alternatives are often more secure. There could be unaddressed vulnerabilities in any of the browsers.

In the case of IE7, IE7 is more secure than IE6 (but probably not as secure as IE8).

But this depends on your definitions of 'alternative' and 'non-alternative', and maybe on your platform, too. For greater security, run Windows as anyone other than Administrator, and run Unix-like systems as anyone other than root. This dramatically improves security.

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Browsers in general and the people operating them are the weakest parts of a typical systems security. You can resolve essentially all of the issues related to browsers by simply:

  1. not allowing your browser to run any client side code
  2. use a browser that doesn't have the ability to run code, like Lynx or Amaya

That said, yes - more popular browsers with active development teams tend to get their vulnerabilities addressed more quickly.

As software gets more sophisticated, people have realized it is far easier to trick people into giving you the information you want instead of trying to brute force your way past a systems defenses. Hence the explosion of phishing scams recently.

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IE7Pro is not a browser but an add-on for Internet Explorer increasing the security of Microsoft's web browser (versions 6, 7 and 8) with enhanced blocking functionality, rather than posing a safety risk.

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You certainly can still include security holes in mere add-ons, of course! – bobince Nov 21 '09 at 3:03
sure, install Adobe Flashplayer (which i think is one of the most popular browser add-ons) and you'll have 'security holes' galore. :P – Molly7244 Nov 21 '09 at 3:16
Could have been a comment, but thanks for the info. Maybe I should say Avant, then (they didn't switch to WebKit, did they?). – Nathaniel Nov 25 '09 at 1:25
imho the entire question is rather moot, who cares whether browser X has 1129 unpatched security holes as opposed to only 1098 in browser Y, they're all considerably 'unsafe', 1 security flaw is enough cause mayhem. run your browser virtualized and be done with it. – Molly7244 Nov 25 '09 at 1:37

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