Internet Explorer (IE) has been a long-standing staple of the work computer. It is used to do everything from accessing internal tools, to casual web browsing during coffee breaks. And, while it was once good and handy, time has not been kind to the little ‘e’ — it has become a very big risk.
In his blog, Microsoft’s principal manager in the experiences and devices group Chris Jackson outlines many of the perils built into the legacy browser and highlights the unfortunate — it was developed in a way that in today’s world is very insecure and contains too many open door vulnerabilities that are never going to be fixed, leaving you at risk.
What is Internet Explorer in today’s context and why is it on my computer?
The short answer is that it is a compatibility tool for those enterprises whose legacy internal sites haven’t been, or cannot be updated to modern standards. It also exists because some parts of Windows is still tied to it.
Why is it so bad?
In the simplest terms, IE presents risks and it has not been maintained or upgraded for several years. Let’s start with the risks: the out-of-the-box IE is set to be compatible not secure, so it loads just about any script, runs old active-x and other plugins from the 1990’s and early 2000’s that can allow direct access to your computer. Pages with malicious ads can quite easily infect your computer with malware or a virus. With every click you expose your computer to great risk.
Let’s tackle the second major problem: Microsoft stopped working on IE entirely in 2016. New(er) web standards like HTML5, and practices like modern sandboxing which allow you to disconnect your browsing experience from the rest of your computer, plugins, filtering and even basic security practices from the past decade are completely foreign to it.
If you use it, consider an alternative!
Google Chrome is the defacto standard these days, with Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft’s Edge (IE’s replacement) falling far behind. What browser you choose to use depends on your company’s requirements and tools and your own personal preferences on the look and feel, among other factors.
IE may still play a role accessing some sites, but it should only be used to access a specific internal site or tool in the case of the site not working on other browsers. Steer clear away from browsing Facebook or doing any online shopping with IE because sites with advertising are a big risk as the ads could infect your computer automatically, thanks to the friendly old ‘e’ inviting them in.