Upgrade Your Web Browser, or Be Attacked!

Do you know how current your web browser is at work?

If it’s not the latest release of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer, you may be putting your organization at risk. The ONline Trust Alliance (OTA) says more than 10% of all computers in the United States are infected by robots (bots). A bot is a malicious program designed to steal passwords, send spam and create all sorts of other mischief via the Internet.

For our team, dealing with older browsers, particularly Internet Explorer is frustrating. Even though overall use of older versions is less than 5% (for IE 6 and IE7), most of those users are in a corporate environment. In many cases, users just open the browser that was installed on the PC assigned to them. In other situations, a corporate entity may have a policy prohibiting the use of a newer browser.

Revolt! It’s time for the Web Browser Spring!

I spoke to a client who has a spouse that at work is required to use an ancient version of IE. When using that browser, nearly every site she visits is broken or doesn’t display properly. So, she “smuggled” a copy of Chrome onto her laptop and gets her work done. According to multiple sources, including NetMarketShare, IE6 which even Microsoft has disowned, is used by more people than the latest more secure version of Internet Explorer (IE9). Many users have abandoned IE in favor of Safari, Chrome, and other browsers.

The issue of appearance is not the real problem. The web browser is the first line of defense against all kinds of security issues, and that’s the real issue to be concerned with. The OTA is taking action in a number of ways to help corporations understand the importance of getting off of outdated browsers. Dubbed “Why Your Browser Matters,” this OTA initiative is aimed at creating awareness about browser security, various versions, and the importance of upgrading.

Some IT managers believe that implementing “patches” which are bits of code designed to fix security holes in browsers are enough. They worry that support for other browsers, or compatibility with specific operating systems (specifically Windows NT4) will be a problem. It’s just BS to think that is the case. When a corporation’s entire data architecture is brought down or stolen, then try to explain the value of those last few patches you installed, vs updating to a modern web browser.

The OTA is being aggressive about creating a more secure environment for all web users, and this week, in conjunction with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), a new U.S. Anti-Bot Code of Conduct for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) was approved.

Called the ABCs for ISPs, this new program is part of a larger initiative designed to engage internet providers in creating and supporting a wider range of cyber security measures. In particular, the objectives are to decrease the threat of bot networks (botnets), domain name fraud, and internet route hijacking. The ABCs program is focused on five key areas: education, detection, notification, remediation, and collaboration. Participating ISPs must take specific action in order to be included in the initiative. Already, Comcast and CenturyLink are part of the program, and many other ISPs have committed to join the program in the near future.
Still, internet fraud is and will continue to be a growing threat to anyone using the internet for entertainment, education, research, commerce, or business in general. And the scariest issue is this: because of how the Internet works, it’s nearly impossible to create a totally secure browser.

So, why take a chance? Get with it and use the browsers first graders believe in. Using the latest browser not only makes the web look good, it also will protect you better than the last version. At least for the coming week or two…

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