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12 January 2016

The slow death of a browser

This week, Microsoft stopped supporting some of the older versions of the most popular browser, Internet Explorer. As the default browser that came pre loaded on PCs for years, IE is used by many on a daily basis without thinking about it.

Affecting versions 8, 9 and 10 of IE, the changes were announced in August 2014, but only came into force 12th January 2016.  According to Computerworld, some 340 million people still rely on older versions of the IE browser, holding an estimated 57% of the browser market share, despite the majority of competitors, such as Firefox and Chrome, updating automatically.

With no technical support or security updates for any versions older than IE11 or Edge, this leaves users of older versions vulnerable to potential hacks. Home users will have prompts to update their version of Internet Explorer if it is no longer supported, allowing them to choose to update or switch to an alternative browser. But for corporate users on locked accounts who are forced to rely on busy central IT departments to roll out updates across the board, this could be more problematic. Without prompt action, businesses could be left potential security vulnerabilities, especially as more and more companies rely on online apps for everyday working and security experts are expressing concerns that cybercriminals may be gathering vulnerabilities ahead of Microsoft suspending support.

Mark James, researcher at security firm ESET commented: "No updates, no patches, no fixes, no new versions and no support options if things go wrong. This basically means it's a hot potato and you need to drop it as fast as you can."

However, the same fears were expressed when Microsoft ceased supporting Windows XP in 2014 and the forecast spate of attacks never materialized, so it will be a matter of time to see if the security experts are being overly cautious with regard to the fears expressed over IE.

Are you a die-hard Internet Explorer fan? Will you be exploring the worlds of Chrome, Safari or Firefox? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook, Twitter or Linked In.

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