Microsoft warned us back in April of 2014 that they would be reducing support for the Internet Explorer browser to only cover the latest version available for each operating system. Well that date it upon us. January 12, 2016 will be the official end-of-life date for any version of IE older than the latest available for the version of Windows you are running. If you take a look at the original life-cycle announcement, it provides the version that will be supported for each OS. After the January Patch Tuesday release there will be no security updates unless you are on the supported version for that OS.
On January 12, expect to see upgrade notifications on older versions of Windows, if you are running a version of the browser older than the latest. You can disable those notifications if you have a need to continue running an older version of the browser for some reason.
If you need to continue running an older version of IE for some reason, take precautions. After this last IE update, older versions will become a prime target.
- Visualize a system with the older version of IE and remove access to the internet and from anyone who does not require access. Of course this only works if the browser will be used for an application or site that is internal to your network.
- If you need to use an older version for access to an external site, you should begin putting pressure on the vendor involved or start shopping around for alternate solutions. In the mean time, you can also install an alternative browser and inform users of those systems that they must use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox for everything but that one purpose. Not a great solution.
- You can add additional levels of protection with products like Bufferzone. This will containerize the browsing experience, protecting the system if the user happens to come across anything malicious.
This one is not a drill folks. If you recall my assessment of the top five vulnerable vendors from 2015, I called out the three primary contributors to vulnerability counts; OS, browser, and the media\office products. Internet Explorer had the largest single product vulnerability count in 2014. In 2015 it moved down the list to #7, but that was more due to the significant increase in vulnerabilities in other products. It had only 12 less resolved in 2015 than in the previous year. Point being, expect that from the point that older versions of IE are end-of-life’d this month, we will see around 200+ vulnerabilities identified that will go unresolved in the unsupported versions.