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Innovation in Information Security

Coverage of important Information Security and Information Technology news and events from the research team at S?nnet Beskerming.

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Forcing users to Update Software

News is rapidly spreading of a plan by Microsoft to force Internet Explorer 6 users to update to Internet Explorer 7 on February 12, through the use of an automatic update offered through WSUS (Windows Server Update System). This move has been cautiously welcomed for moving more Internet users to a platform that incorporates better XSS protection (marginal) and anti-phishing components (though the MSRC claims they are not security components). Overall, the security picture for Internet Explorer 7 is much better than that for Internet Explorer 6, but the forced requirement to update is not as palatable.

Internet Explorer 6 users and administrators of networks where it is still required can follow instructions that are available to avoid having to automatically upgrade. This forced upgrade is going to affect a lot of business customers, where custom business applications have been certified to earlier versions of Internet Explorer, or where Internet Explorer 7 has not been authorised for use (one company reported to be affected in this manner is FedEx). It will also be a problem for users and administrators who continue to use and support older versions of Microsoft Windows, specifically Windows 2000 - which is still being actively supported by Microsoft but is unable to install Internet Explorer 7.

Alternative browser developers and supporters are keen to attract extra users to their choice of browser and this is a valuable opportunity to do so.

Pragmatic observers see nothing but good things from this update - tech savvy users will be able to retain Internet Explorer 6 if they need it, while non-tech savvy users will find themselves using a more secure product, but it may be some time before the same forced upgrade is delivered to home users.

25 January 2008

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