Government Warnings to Dump IE are No Help

I’m worried about end users. I’m worried about their trust in the Internet and thus in the future of IT – the cloud.

I’m worried because of the latest fallout from the cyberattacks on Google, and that company’s decision that it might resort to pulling out altogether from China – believed to be the source of the attacks. The latest fallout is that the governments of France and Germany. They’re telling their citizens to drop use of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) web browser, after it was revealed that the attacks were made possible by a vulnerability or weakness in IE (version 6 or older).

The French and German government agencies, according to a story I read, recommended that their citizens switch to Firefox or Google Chrome.

As you can imagine, Microsoft isn’t looking too kindly on these government proclamations. “Switching away will get away from this particular problem,” he told BBC News. “But all browsers have security flaws.” As I write this, Microsoft is working on a patch, and is stressing that IE 8, the latest version of its browser, is the most secure browser.

Concerns have mounted since details of the attack are now available online, and hackers could soon change the code to target other versions of the browser.

What worries me about these warnings is that I think it leads to unnecessary fears about the web and – by association – sharing information and storing data on the cloud. Yes, I think it’s good to inform people of security failings and potential threats, but it seems to me that an all out government alert to switch technologies is a bit drastic – especially when the damage is limited to old versions of IE. I fear this is going to scare away businesses, especially small or mid-size companies who may consider using the cloud infrastructure for its computing needs.

Again, let me emphasize, though, that IT organizations can find protection in services that help monitor websites, transactions and the user experience. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, said Ben Franklin.