While the majority of moderately Internet-savvy people use other browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Maxthon, and (occasionally) Opera, it’s easy to forget that a significant amount of people (roughly a quarter) use Internet Explorer as of December 2015.
Even though there is technically nothing wrong with using Internet Explorer as one’s browser – particularly because Microsoft recently started to catch up with the innovations of other browsers – it’s still notorious for being one of the most buggy and unsafe browsers on the web. Because of its insistence on keeping older and rarely-used application features, IE isn’t necessarily the best browser to use in the most dubious neighborhoods of the Internet. To top it all off, an announcement by Microsoft in 2014 made everything even more unsafe.
Who’s in Danger?
First of all, I would like to clarify things and say that not all versions of IE are unsafe. The people in danger are the 55 percent who are using versions 8, 9, and 10 of Microsoft’s browser. This is because of an announcement made by the company on August 2014, setting the end of support date for these versions at 12 January 2016. Aside from the fact that Internet Explorer continues to retain a considerable market share of the Internet browsing experience around the world (particularly, and oddly enough, in Japan), it’s important to note that 55 percent is a sufficiently high proportion of people using older versions to start an epidemic of attacks.
If you happen to be using one of these versions of IE, you should know that you are much more likely at this point to leave your system vulnerable by not upgrading. As time passes, the situation will only worsen.
What This All Means
Typically, when support ends for a particular version of software, hackers begin to investigate all the vulnerabilities that were not patched up until the date in which the developers flipped the “off” switch. Having this kind of information comes with the inevitable temptation to put it into action.
Experts predict that those continuing to use older versions of IE will experience more hijacking attempts due to the lack of support combined with the rate at which it is still being used. Most likely, enterprising hackers will start making (or stealing) a list of all the vulnerabilities that versions 8, 9, and 10 of Internet Explorer have. Once they’ve conjured up all the possible angles of attack, the attacks will commence, starting with attempts to inject code and gain access to the system through the browser. Everything and anything is possible. This is IE we’re talking about, and predecessors to version 11 have been known to contain features and frameworks that gain fundamental access to Windows, making it possible for hackers to tunnel their attacks through your entire system.
In short, running the versions of Internet Explorer that have given it its reputation as the most vulnerable browser in the world isn’t the brightest idea.
What You Can Do
The first suggestion that comes to mind is to upgrade your browser to version 11 if you do not want to download an alternative. As for people running Windows versions older than Windows 7 (meaning you won’t be able to run IE 11), you will have to start looking at the alternatives mentioned at the beginning of this article. If you’re not using IE, you can still do your bit and send a link to this article to every person you know that might be using it.
What would you choose in this scenario? Would you rather stick with the latest Internet Explorer (considering that it is starting to catch up to the alternatives) or ditch it for something else? Tell us more in a comment!