From the November 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

Just Browsing

It's been bad news upon bad news for Internet Explorer security holes this year. Updates to fix the problems haven't always been timely, either. Naturally, that's enough to make businesses worry about the safety of their browsers. It can be worthwhile to check into alternative browsers that don't have the spotty security track record of Internet Explorer. In June, the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, even suggested that users consider other browsers.

Mozilla, Mozilla's Firefox, Netscape and Opera are all leading candidates. They're all available at no cost, although Opera also comes in a $39 version. The real investment is the time it takes to install and get the browser up and running on your business computers-even though all these programs are user-friendly.

Firefox, the Mozilla Foundation's next-generation browser, is generating the most buzz for its Internet-Explorer-style user interface, speed and easy setup. We tried out a beta version that easily imported bookmarks, cookies and history from Internet Explorer. Some plug-ins had to be manually installed. It has a pretty good pop-up blocker and some features that improve on the Internet Explorer experience, such as flexible bookmark management. For entrepreneurs with security concerns and the inclination to install a new browser, it's a good time to seriously consider Internet Explorer's competitors.

Space Case

Every business eventually outgrows its capacity for storing data. Fortunately, manufacturers are paying lots of attention to the growing business network-storage market, and entrepreneurs are benefiting.

Of particular note is the Linksys Network Storage Link. This $99 (street) device plugs an external hard drive into a router to let network users access the drive-and it even works with wireless routers. Businesses that have invested in a Wi-Fi system can get this compact product up and running quickly to store, share and back up data. It can be used with a USB flash drive for taking files on the road, between offices or to your home. Expect to see more products like this one aimed at making networked storage easier for businesses.

The New Spam

Just when you thought you knew the ins and outs of spam, along comes "spim," spam for IM. Increasingly, IM is a popular way for businesses to communicate. And wherever there's a communications technology, there's someone trying to push ads at it. Just like with spam, spim can take a toll on your productivity, time and money.

For entrepreneurs who use public IM services from AOL, MSN or Yahoo!, the first line of defense is from providers themselves, who all have different weapons active in the battle. Entrepreneurs can also help by educating their employees about spim and making sure the only messages accepted come from senders on their buddy lists. That alone can make a big difference. For pressing situations, companies like IMlogic and FaceTime Communications offer IM management software.

49%
of cell phone users worldwide have web access through their phones.
Statistic Source: Mobinet, from A.T. Kearney and Cambridge University's Business School

Every month,
78%
of all paid wireless minutes go unused in the United States.
Statistic Source: TNS Telecoms