Microsoft will officially end support for older versions of its Internet Explorer (IE) browser on January 12th, 2016. This includes Internet Explorer version 10 and earlier. This means that anyone still using older versions of IE after the end-of-life date on the 12th will be susceptible to security holes, as Microsoft will no longer provide patches or updates for the antiquated browser versions.
Read on for more information about End of Support for older versions of Internet Explorer, and actions you should take to ensure security.
Why should you upgrade your browser?
According to Microsoft's official landing page about end of support for IE, on the Windows for Business section of their site, "Internet Explorer 11 offers improved security, increased performance, better backward compatibility, and support for the web standards that power today’s websites and services. Microsoft encourages customers to upgrade and stay up-to-date on the latest browser for a faster, more secure browsing experience."
The main risks of failing to upgrade your browser from an older version of IE prior to the end of support are related to security and compliance; an additional risk being general lack of support from Microsoft and third-party service providers like Meridian. Failing to upgrade could put you at risk for viruses, malware, ransomware, spyware and other malicious attacks. In fact, studies comparing IE 8 against IE 11 show a large percentage of security risks that appear in IE 8 are filtered out by IE 11's enhanced security measures. Upgrading can also yield benefits in the form of performance improvements and overall user experience (UX).
To give you a better idea of the types of threats an antiquated browser can open you up to, I've listed just a few of the major threats exposed in the past year below:
- Destructive Ransomware and CryptoLocker Malware
- Regin Malware
- BadUSB Malware
- HeartBleed Bug
- Biggest Data Breaches in 2015 (Part 1)
If you receive and activate new devices this holiday season, you should immediately take action to ensure that those are running the latest browser versions, as well. Technology these days progresses so rapidly that some new devices have outdated software and applications, even at the time of the very first unboxing and activation. While you're at it, it's equally important to ensure that your operating system and servers are up to date, as well. Check out this related article for info on the latest server update: The End of Life: What the End of Windows Server 2003 Means for SMBs, as well as this one for the latest Microsoft OS expiration: Windows XP: It's Later Than You Think.
What are your upgrade options?
Sure, you can follow the standard upgrade path to IE version 11, which will remain supported through the duration of the Windows 10 operating system's lifespan, but there are other great options, too. Check out the chart below from Passion.Digital, which shows usage rates over the past 20 years for the four most popular web browsers (IE, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari).
The right browser for you will depend on a mix of personal preference and compatibility needs. For instance, the Microsoft Edge browser is the newly launched Microsoft offering that was built specifically for Windows 10. With new features that leverage touch-capabilities found on devices like the Surface and Cortana integration, Edge could be a great option for Microsoft fans who want to get the most out of late-model devices.
My personal favorite when it comes to browsers is Google Chrome. Aside from having an all-around decent UX, Chrome is simply the most convenient browser for me to use most of the time, due to integration with my search engine of choice and Google apps including YouTube, Drive, Docs and Sheets. I also love Chrome because of the availability of plugins that I wouldn't want to live without, including:
- Baby Animal Ad Blocker (because who wouldn't rather see puppies or kittens in place of ads?)
- Momentum (to keep me motivated and focused!)
- The Great Suspender (perfect for fellow Open-In-A-New-Tab-aholics)
- Save to Pocket (to save useful articles and webpages to read and share later)
Want more information and additional resources?
Check out these sites for additional information and resources, or contact an MSP partner, like Meridian, for guidance.
- TechNet/Microsoft Browsers: This site offers technical resources, free tools, and expert guidance to help you customize, deploy, and support Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge.
- TechNet/Reasons to upgrade to Internet Explorer 11
- TechNet/Web Application Compatibility Lab Kit
So, on behalf of the Meridian Team, Rest in Peace, Internet Explorer. You will be missed, I'm sure, just not by me. In remembrance of IE, check out the video below to learn more about the browser's history and its contributions to the technology and browsers we know and love today.