March 4, 2010
Users of Internet Explorer 6, a Microsoft web browser first made available in 2001, are encouraged to upgrade to avoid losing access to services.
The aging web browser, launched on Aug. 27, 2001, was eulogized in Denver yesterday at an event (complete with coffin and 'mourners') that drew national attention. Even though Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) is still used by a percentage of the web-browsing public, the Denver design firm's tongue-in-cheek 'service' served to illustrate that IE6 has been outdone by newer, faster, and safer web browsers, including two newer offerings from Microsoft.
Google has transitioned over time from delivering simple text pages to rich, interactive applications including video and voice. Unfortunately, very old browsers, including Internet Explorer 6, cannot run many of these new features effectively.
Late in January, Google announced that it was officially ending IE6 support in Google Docs and Google Sites: "We plan to begin phasing out support of these older browsers on the Google Docs suite and the Google Sites editor on March 1, 2010. After that point, certain functionality within these applications may have higher latency and may not work correctly in these older browsers."
What's more, Google will also phase out IE6 support in Gmail and Google Calendar later this year. This will have a major impact as all CSU students with a "@rams.colostate.edu" address are using Gmail for e-mail as well as the other tools and features which are a part of Google Apps for CSU, the university's standard for student e-mail and communications.
So, while Google is providing newer tools to its users, those users will need to have a more modern web browser.
While Microsoft has released many security updates for IE6, a significant number of extremely critical vulnerabilities remain un-patched. The recent, highly publicized attacks against Google and other major corporations exploited vulnerabilities in IE6. While all versions (including IE7 and IE8) were potentially exploitable at the time of the attack, IE7 and IE8 include more advanced security capabilities; IE6 cannot be fully protected and Microsoft itself recommends upgrading as soon as possible.
ACNS only provides support for software versions that are approved and meet the university's Desktop Software Standards. Until recently Internet Explorer version 6 was one of the oldest pieces of software to be supported; it has now been reclassified as unsupported.
Luckily, many options for upgrading are available:
Steven Lovaas, ACNS Security Manager, and Randy Miotke, ACNS Middleware Manager, contributed to this story.
Contact: Adam Warren