What the End of Internet Explorer Means for Your Business

Publication date: Jul 25, 2022

Last Published: Jul 28, 2022

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On June 15, 2022, Microsoft officially retired its first web browser, Internet Explorer.

The end of support for the aging application was hardly surprising because it was first announced in May 2021 to give its users plenty of time to prepare.

Still, the consequences of what once was the world’s most popular web browser going out of support on most consumer PCs running Windows 10 (the retirement doesn’t impact in-market Windows 10 LTSC or Server Internet Explorer 11 desktop applications) are far-reaching, and your organization may be affected in ways that are not immediately obvious.

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6 Critical Cybersecurity Policies Every Organization Must Have

Internet Explorer Is Now an Even Greater Security Risk

The first version of Internet Explorer was released in 1995 (this episode of The Computer Chronicles shows how the internet looked like back then), when viruses were being spread mainly on floppy disks shared between multiple computers.

Over the years, Microsoft has released a total of 11 major versions of Internet Explorer, with IE 11 (released in 2013) being the last one. Unfortunately, the web browser has always been known for its numerous security and privacy vulnerabilities, many of which directly stem from its ActiveX software framework.

Now that Internet Explorer is retired, newly discovered vulnerabilities won’t get patched unless they meet a certain criticality threshold, and such updates will be available only to customers who are paying for Extended Security Updates. In other words, the web browser is now a major security risk and should be avoided.

Internet explorer designs user interface

While most users have been doing just that on their own for many years (IE’s desktop browser market share was less than 1 percent in June 2022), organizations should still implement a formal policy to prohibit the use of Internet Explorer across all work devices.

It’s also a good idea to provide employees with cybersecurity awareness training revolving around the topic of browser security to make them fully understand why using Internet Explorer and other outdated web browsers is a bad idea.

Some Legacy Apps Still Depend on Retired Internet Explorer

The aforementioned software framework responsible for many of IE’s security and privacy vulnerabilities, ActiveX, has been used by many organizations to build all kinds of web applications. Some manufacturing companies, for example, still use ActiveX-based web applications to track product inventory and generate reports.

All organizations with legacy applications that were created specifically for Internet Explorer face a dilemma. On the one hand, they can continue using the unsupported web browser to keep their legacy applications working just like they’re used to but risk security and privacy issues. On the other hand, they can switch to a modern web browser but potentially deal with application compatibility issues.

Fortunately, Microsoft has prepared a solution for organizations that still rely on ActiveX: Internet Explorer mode (IE mode) in Microsoft Edge.

“Internet Explorer mode gives you built-in legacy browser support for websites and applications that still require Internet Explorer,” explains Sean Lyndersay, General Manager, Microsoft Edge Enterprise. “In fact, Microsoft Edge is the only browser with built-in compatibility for legacy Internet Explorer-based websites and applications, including support for functionality like ActiveX controls.”

Google Chrome, the most popular web browser in the world right now, doesn’t support ActiveX out of the box, but there are third-party extensions like IE Tab that make it possible to load a specific website in Chrome using Internet Explorer.

Ultimately, all IE compatibility solutions should be seen as temporary bandaids. Even Microsoft will eventually withdraw IE Mode support for Windows 10 when support for the operating system ends. Moving away from legacy Internet Explorer-based applications is the only permanent solution.

The Bottom Line on Retiring and the End of Internet Explorer

The era of Internet Explorer is officially over, and it’s time for organizations to act accordingly.

As expected, Microsoft recommends its own modern web browser, Edge, as the best alternative, but many other great options exist, including Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Modern web browsers are not just safer and more capable than Internet Explorer, but they’re also more enjoyable to use, so it doesn’t take much effort to convince even the biggest luddites among employees to start using them instead. Let’s chat about your business’s internet security.

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