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IE 6 Aftermath: Time To Review Your Browser Strategy

The latest update for Internet Explorer is out, and organizations are busy applying or at least certifying the patch on their testbeds.
The latest update for Internet Explorer is out, and organizations are busy applying or at least certifying the patch on their testbeds.The out-of-band release certainly causes some additional work for IT admins, but Microsoft did the right thing in anticipating the update because the exploit for the vulnerability had been made public and will become more widespread soon.

So far, so good, everything back to normal. But hold on: There is an opportunity here...

The immense publicity surrounding this Microsoft update due to its participation in the Google/CN data breach gives you an opening to re-evaluate your browser strategy. After all, the browser's constant exposure to external content makes it easily the most attacked software on the average desktop. Internet Explorer 6, still in use by many companies (more than 50% of Qualys users), is almost 10 years old and was designed during a time when the Internet was a much gentler place. IE 7 is better, but does not have many of the specific safety features built into Internet Explorer 8.

So update to IE 8, which has a familiar patch cycle. Alternatively, another modern browser could provide additional security. Firefox from Mozilla is very popular, well-supported, and extremely user configurable. Chrome from Google is the newest in this field, was designed with security in mind, and has a silent update mechanism -- something that I am particularly fond of.

Either option will gain you robustness and performance.

P.S.: If you cannot update, there is a place for you as well -- a small community (1,575 as of this writing) of diehard IE 6 fans exists, and they congregate here.

-- As the CTO for Qualys, Wolfgang Kandek is responsible for product direction and all operational aspects of the QualysGuard platform and its infrastructure. Wolfgang has more than 20 years of experience in developing and managing information systems. His focus has been on Unix-based server architectures and application delivery through the Internet. Wolfgang provides the latest commentary on his blog: laws.qualys.com and also publishes his Patch Tuesday commentary to the QualysGuard channel: www.youtube.com/QualysGuard. He is a frequent source in business and trade media and speaks at industry conferences around the world, most recently at RSA 2009.