Most SMEs Face Browser Security Risks From This Month

A study by Manta has shown that even though Microsoft is stopping its support for Internet Explorer versions 8, 9 and 10, 60% of small and medium sized businesses are still using them.

The Risks

The main (preventable) risk of running old, unsupported browsers is that they are more susceptible to security problems because they are no longer kept up to date with the latest updates, fixes and patches.  This of course means that you could at the very least be putting your company and your customers’ data at risk by using them.  The high profile security breaches of larger organisations in recent times (TalkTalk and JD Wetherspoon) have shown how easy it is for hackers / cyber criminals to exploit weaknesses.

There are also the risks of legal challenges and reputational damage for your company for not taking action to plug what are known potential holes in your online defences.  The amount of information available from Microsoft and online generally about browser security is likely to mean that ignorance will be no excuse.

Like Leaving Your Car Unlocked

Steve Donald, CTO at Hexis Cyber Solutions, recently reported as saying that using one of the old, unsupported IE versions is akin to “leaving your car unlocked in public”. 

Since most cyber attacks are content delivered or displayed within a web browser, there is general agreement among online security experts and commentators that maintaining the latest web browser and running regular updates is the best policy to minimise browser security risks.  It is also advisable for companies to follow rather than ignore the on-screen Windows messages and prompts relating to browser support and upgrade options.

Although some companies may want to keep some old version IE browsers for operational reasons, the key piece of browser advice that any IT Support and / or Digital Security Company will tell you is that in today’s online world you can’t really afford not to use the latest IE version.

Warning - From January

From this month only the very latest version of the IE browser, currently IE 11, for a supported operating system will be able receive the necessary security updates, compatibility fixes and technical support on Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.   After 12th January Microsoft  will no longer be providing security updates  and technical  support for older versions. In short, your old IE browser will be unsupported and therefore a security risk.

The safest advice, if you have an older IE version, is to upgrade now.