Today marks the day when Microsoft finally ends support for older versions of its archaic web browser, Internet Explorer. But some businesses may not be ready to face this reality.
There is a lot of hate for Internet Explorer and Microsoft is aware of this. That is why the Edge browser was created and the vendor is eager to encourage Windows users to embrace it so IE can be swept under the rug and eventually forgotten. One of the ways Microsoft is trying to push the adoption of Edge is to cease supporting Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10. That means no security patches for them from now on. While Internet Explorer 11 is still supported, it is clear Edge is Microsoft's favoured child.
But so many organisations still cling onto Internet Explorer for a variety of reasons. Companies that have developed apps for Internet Explorer running on legacy systems will have to invest time and money to do an IT overhaul in order to make them work with newer and better web browsers. Some commercial enterprise offerings also operate better on Internet Explorer.
Security consulting company Duo Labs looked at its own enterprise user data globally to find out just how prevalent Internet Explorer is in organisations. It saw that 44 per cent of users who are using Microsoft's browsers are still running older Internet Explorer versions that are now no longer supported and Edge adoption is still low.
"Unfortunately, the extended notice of this impending drop of support seems to have done little to drive users toward the new Edge browser platform," Duo Labs research and development product manager Mike Hanley said in a blog post. "In fact, the ratio of Edge users to IE users is actually only around 1 in 15."
The Duo Lab findings also suggest that a number of users have turned Automatic Updates off on their Windows PCs which would have moved outdated browsers onto Internet Explorer 11. This means they're likely to have missed out on crucial operating systems patches as well.
Small businesses are also neglecting to upgrade their browsers. According to data from small business resource site Manta, 34 per cent of small business owners are still using Internet Explorer and of that group, 61 per cent are using version 10 or older. End of support for Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10 will leave many of them in the lurch.
As noted by IT security firm BeyondTrust, Microsoft will offer some breathing space to select users who have yet to update from old versions of Internet Explorer:
- Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 will still receive updates for Internet Explorer 9, as that is the most current supported version on those operating systems.
- Windows Server 2012 will still receive updates for Internet Explorer 10, as that is the most current supported version on that operating system.
- Windows 8 is no longer supported, so customers must update to Windows 8.1 in order to receive Internet Explorer 11.
But for most users who are stuck in their ways of running antiquated Internet Explorers, the message is loud and clear: update your browsers. If your organisation requires you to use Internet Explorer for legacy apps and plug-ins, at least move on to Internet Explorer 11.
For IT managers, perhaps the end of support for Internet Explorer 8,9 and 10 is a good time to bring up the need to upgrade older apps and IT systems to support newer and more reliable browsers to your business leaders. Yes, the cost to do so can be huge but the value of security should be considered as well.
"Using a less-secure browser in today's security climate in order to support a legacy interface can ultimately be more costly than updating the application or working with a vendor to provide support for newer software in the event of a compromise," Hanley said.