Menu

Why You Should Upgrade Your Web Browser

Computer and BookEvery time a company announces that they are going to stop supporting a piece of software, folks start asking me if they should upgrade. It happened with Windows XP, it happened with Internet Explorer 7, and now it’s happening with Internet Explorer 8-10.

OK, so, every time Microsoft announces they are going to stop supporting a piece of software, folks start asking me if they should upgrade. I’m not trying to be unfair to Microsoft here; at a certain point, you have to stop supporting your software, because continuing to maintain it takes away resources you could be using to create the next product.

Microsoft will stop supporting Internet Explorer versions 8, 9, and 10 on January 12th, 2016, and, let’s face it, if you are still running a web browser that was originally released when Oasis was still together, it’s time for you to upgrade.

Why Should You Upgrade

Well, the most important reason to upgrade is because Microsoft will longer be releasing updates to the outdated browsers. While that might not sound horrible, any time a security vulnerability or bug is discovered in a program, an upgrade is required to fix it. So, after the software is no longer supported, no one is fixing issues that could allow people with bad intentions to run nefarious code on your computer.

Another important reason to upgrade is that old browsers can make websites difficult or impossible to use. We simply don’t design web pages the same way in 2016 that we did in 2009. Many frameworks (like Foundation) don’t even work in IE8, so you might not even be able to use the website you are trying to use.

Finally, maybe the best reason to upgrade, is that Internet Explorer 11 is a pretty good browser. It isn’t my personal browser of choice, but it’s far better than any other version that Microsoft has ever released. Give it a chance.

Why Should You Not Upgrade

“Compatibility Issues.”

It’s what I always hear from folks that say they can’t upgrade their version of Internet Explorer. Because the new version will be incompatible with some web application that they have to use, they are stuck with IE8. Or, (the horror) IE7.

I won’t get into all the reasons that I think this is a awful reason to not upgrade your browser, but I will say that if the web application being used requires a web browser that no longer has security support, then the web application is likely to have security issues as well.

If you find yourself caught in this trap, I highly recommend finding out exactly what applications you are using that require the outdated web browser, and then only using the web browser for those applications. For everything else, give Firefox, Chrome, or any other up-to-date web browser a try. Either of these two are easy to download and setup, and will at least provide you with the updated security that an unsupported version of Internet Explorer won’t.

Beyond “Compatibility Issues,” there would also be the possibility that your computer doesn’t have the recommended resources for running IE 11, but they are fairly low; it’s pretty likely that if your computer doesn’t have the resources that Internet Explorer requires that Windows has ground to a halt already.

Best Of All…

…it’s free.

Go ahead. Upgrade. Your computer will thank you.

Venom Security Vulnerability

There is a new security vulnerability in the wild: Venom. For those of you that remember Heartbleed, this one is even more frightening:

“Heartbleed lets an adversary look through the window of a house and gather information based on what they see,” said Geffner, using an analogy. “Venom allows a person to break in to a house, but also every other house in the neighborhood as well.”

A full description of the vulnerability can be found on ZDNet.

I have verified that 10T Web Design’s server has already been patched and is no longer vulnerable to Venom, however, this is a wide-spread issue. If you are concerned that your server is vulnerable, just contact me with the name of your hosting company, and I’ll be happy to find out for you at no cost, even if you are not currently a client.

Many Password Strength Meters Weak

Happy Security Sunday! I found this article the other day on Network World, pointing out studies on the dreaded ‘password strength indicators’ that many websites use to nudge folks into using stronger passwords (and generally annoy most everyone).

“Overall, password strength gateways are inconsistent, with some allowing all letters and others requiring different character sets to gain approval, the researchers found. That sends a mixed message to online users accessing many different websites.”

Read the entire article.

I agree with the article that the overall intention of the strength indicators are good, but for some the execution falls short, and there are significantly easier ways to keep your passwords secure.

I’ve long been a supporter of password managers such as KeePassX (available for Windows, Mac, and Linux; Free) as one of the best ways to keep your online accounts secure. A 20-character long string of random letters, numbers and symbols is incredibly difficult to break, and password managers allow you generate and keep track of them. In addition:

  • you don’t need to have little pieces of paper laying around with all your passwords on them;
  • they keep you protected from key-loggers;
  • every account you have can a different secure password;
  • and you don’t have to remember them;
  • honestly, you never have to see them: just copy and paste.

Easy to install, free, and super secure. If you haven’t, give it a try.