Microsoft announced back in August 2014 that it was ending technical support and security updates for old versions of its Internet Explorer browser. Users have been given 18 months of warnings and the support for versions 8, 9 and 10 of Internet Explorer has finally stopped as of January 12th 2016. Microsoft urges its users to switch to the latest browser versions for a ‘faster and more secure browsing experience’.
This doesn’t mean that users are unable to browse the Internet if they haven’t upgraded to a supported browser version, but it does pose some significant problems.
The largest threat to users of old Internet Explorer versions is that of security. The former IE support contained regular technical content updates which would protect the web browser from cyber attacks. Now that Internet Explorer will not be provided with these critical security updates, your PC will be left exposed to all manner of harmful and malicious viruses or spyware that can steal, damage or delete your personal or business data.
It is believed that hackers and fraudsters will have begun stockpiling IE vulnerability information in advance of the support cut-off deadline. Even though Microsoft has issued widespread warnings for users to upgrade their Internet Explorer browsers, experts are predicting a flurry of attacks on browsers in the coming weeks. However, it is worth pointing out that experts also expected there to be a malware epidemic following the discontinuation of Windows XP support in April 2014, but very little actually occurred.
Businesses who choose not to upgrade can also be at risk of company compliance failure. Businesses that have stringent regulatory obligations, such as in the legal or financial industries, should conduct due diligence. This process will help them to ascertain if they will be able to satisfy their compliance policies if they use unsupported software such as old Internet browsers.
Third Party Software Compatibility
Businesses or personal users who fail to upgrade could also have problems using third party software. If there are compatibility issues, then users may find that they are unable to obtain software assistance as the vendor may have also discontinued supporting older versions of Internet Explorer browsers.
The latest browser offering from Microsoft is called Edge which is automatically integrated into the Windows 10 operating system. Going forward, ‘only the most current version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates’ according to Microsoft. However, Edge is also able to launch IE 11 for those that require backwards compatibility. Therefore the software giant will continue supporting IE 11 on Windows 10 as well as Windows 7 and 8.1.
Although Microsoft has been urging users to upgrade to IE 11 or Edge, it is thought that they have inadvertently sent some of their customers towards their competitors instead. Browsers such as Chrome and Firefox now represent as much as 25% and 12% of the browser market respectively. Apple’s Safari trails at 5% but around 57% of users still use Internet Explorer.
It is estimated by ComputerWorld that as many as 340 million people are currently using old versions of IE and are therefore vulnerable to attack, whilst only 55% of users have Edge or IE 11 installed.
How To Upgrade
For users who are concerned that they might not yet have upgraded, the best thing to do is check your browser version under Tools and About Internet Explorer. For those that do need to upgrade, Microsoft recommends that home users do so by using Automatic Updates. Small and medium organisations can also use Automatic Updates to make the move up to a higher-spec browser. However, careful consideration will need to be given to any business-dependent third party web applications that may have cross-compatibility issues. SMEs should potentially contact a Microsoft Certified Partner to fully discuss their business needs and options. Large businesses of more than 500 employees should contact Microsoft company representatives and follow the tools, online guides and resources that Microsoft provides to manage the Internet Explorer browser upgrade project.
If your legal firm needs assistance in upgrading their web browsers or managing any aspect of IT security, then we are perfectly placed in the heart of the City’s legal district to assist you. We can conduct a free security review of your infrastructure and highlight any potential concerns and points to consider for the future. If you’d like to know more about how we can help you, then call us today.