IE6…Is Your Browser A Security Risk?

February 4, 2010 at 6:47 pm Leave a comment

It’s no longer front page news that China was behind the cyber attack on Google in January.  But what you may not have caught was that Microsoft admitted that Internet Explorer 6 browser was the “weak link” in that attack.

It was just this week that I discovered of the 10% of users still plugging along with this nine-year old behemoth, one of them was my own boyfriend! Aiyeee!! There was the comical V-8 slap on the forehead moment when I realized his constant susceptibility to having his PC infected with nasty “Trojan Horses” was due less to the fact he wasn’t keeping his anti-virus updated as he was still running IE6.

That prompted me to write this article  – yes, some of you (I’m not naming names) are still running IE6.  This article is designed to help save you some pain.

Don’t assume – what version of Internet Explorer are you running?

If you are using Internet Explorer, open it up and click on the HELP menu at the top of your browser window and then choose ABOUT.  You’ll get a box similar to this.  What you are looking for is whether you are running Version 6.0 (and something), 7 or 8 (see the red box on the image below).

If you are on IE6 or IE7 it’s time to upgrade.  You won’t lose anything, but you will certainly gain better (albeit not perfect) security.  Find instructions to upgrade in just 4 steps at the end of this article.

Consider other browsers…

One thing web designers and developers are encouraging their clients to do is – take this opportunity to look at other browsers.  Internet Explorer, across three versions, holds on to less than 30% of market share.  They’ve lost their domination in the marketplace because other browsers often do a better job.  Specifically, there are web standards – called w3c compliance – that other browsers started adhering to years ago.  This means that users can experience sites the way they were meant to be viewed and that security risks are minimized.  Here are three of the most common browsers that perform better in tests against IE8…just to give you an idea of what you might be missing (all will work PCs or Macs):

Most features and expandability: Over 6000 Add Ons
Personalization w/ Themes
Best Security
46.4 % Experience your site like almost half your visitors do.  Firefox is my favorite because of the little add-ons that help me make better use of it.  My favorite adds allow me one click access to my Google calendar, notify me when I have new GMail (even if I don’t have it open), a sidebar that toggles open and close where I can monitor my Twitter stream…there’s no end to how you can turn your browser into a literal cyber Swiss army knife.  Beware not to go too crazy, though, the browser can sometimes get clunky with all that stuff piled on.
Best Security

High Performance
9.8 % Newly entering the browser wars is Chrome by Google.  And true to Google sensibilities it’s a clean, fast and no frills browsing experience.  By fast, yes pages load noticeably faster…over a lifetime you could probably gain a year or two!
Highest Performance
3.6 % Tried and true, Safari lovers may be few, but loyal. Fast and like Chrome, low in the frills department.
Excellent Features
Best Security
2.2 % Beloved by its users it touts speed and stability AND customization.

A more comprehensive browser comparison.

But what about that security you mentioned?

Stick with IE?  Or go with one of the other options – which one offers the best security? Between you, me and the fence post it all depends who you listen to – there are loud voices clamoring on all sides of that argument.  So in my humble opinion, although I am rabid anti-Microsoft being an Apple girl, there really is no clear winner, and all of the browsers are working hard to keep at the cutting edge for their users.  Here’s a good link to a CNET article comparing the different security features across all these browsers (including Opera 10).

Additionally, Firefox also recently patched version 3.0 (2008) to help extend its shelf life.

Only 4 Steps To Upgrade IE 6 To IE8…

Okay, you’re not convinced and want to stick with IE.  To get you started, head over to the IE8 Home Page and choose Download from the menu:

Steps 1 & 2 – the only hard part here might be selecting your operating system.
As an Apple girl myself I was clueless as to what Rick’s PC was:

Step 3 – Download

Step 4 – Install & Wa-la!  Now wasn’t that easy?  And trust me it will save you a lot of grief!

FYI: if you love IE 7 – then one thing that you’ll like about IE8 is that it features an IE7 Simulator.  In IE8 just open Tools -> Developer Tools -> Browser Mode -> IE7.

Still need more convincing?

YouTube: “There Must Be 50 Ways To Leave IE6″


Entry filed under: Putting The Internet To Work For You. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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