It's not related to the problem per se, but there's a couple of rather big misconceptions floating around here...
Firstly, IE8 (you are using the latest version of IE with associated updates and patches right?) isn't a terrible browser, no I wouldn't use it, but contrary to what's been suggested here it's not something that's going to pack up on day one or let every virus under the sun through without warning. It's actually pretty secure, Microsoft have tightened themselves up a lot since the days of IE6 et al. It's people that still use antiquated browsers in general that I worry about far more...! So no, while IE isn't the choice of most people in the know nowadays, including me, it's not bad by any means, definitely not so bad that it warrants flaming of anyone who chooses to use it.
Misconception number 2 is here in plain text:
my safty is not relying on a browser, its knowing what to not click and download
Knowing what not to click and download does play a big part in security - there's no getting away from that. What I dispute is the claim that the browser has nothing to do with it. You could be browsing around quite happily, stumble across a seemingly genuine website with some malicious code on it (or a genuine website that's been unknowingly compromised), and if that page contains code to exploit a vulnerability in the browser of your choice, it could do all sorts - perhaps even download, launch and install a virus or rootkit without you ever knowing. And before anyone claims they can spot such sites a mile off, it's really not all that obvious - ANYONE can make a seemingly genuine site, throw a few tutorials on there say, keep it looking professional then whack a few exploits on there. It doesn't take much knowledge, especially with the older and well published ones.
So yes, whether you like it or not I'm afraid your safety online does at least partly depend on what browser you're using. Though of course whatever browser you choose to use, if you're browsing carelessly then it won't help you!