Why your business needs to get off Internet Explorer Six

Microsoft Corp.‘s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Internet Explorer continues to dominate corporate browser use more so than it does private use, with its nearest rival, Mozilla’s Firefox, lagging far behind with one in seven businesses opting for it, according to data collected by Internet-based security service Zscaler.

Businesses are also more careless about upgrading IE than the general public with 27 per cent still using IE6, which has known vulnerabilities, said Zscaler, including the one that led to the notorious Aurora attack against Google and other U.S. corporations in January.

The percentage using IE6 is dropping — from 33 per cent in January to 27 per cent in March — and Zscaler strongly recommends upgrading to IE8 for the 74 per cent of companies that use that browser. Firefox lags behind with 10 per cent of businesses using it, and Google Chrome comes in third with just over two per cent. IE has worse penetration overall when non-business users are added to the mix, with its share dropping below 60 per cent.

Zscaler’s “State of the Web” report for Q1 2010 relies on statistics gathered by the company in providing security services to its customers. So its data depends the particular mix of companies it happens to have as customers and the sites they visit.

Its data found that the United States has the highest number and highest percentage of malicious Web sites visited by its customers during the first three months of this year. The United States hosted 68 per cent of all the malicious Web sites visited, with German second with just under four per cent. Of all the U.S. sites visited, 10.2 per cent contained malicious software, the company said, with Honduras coming in second with 7.5 per cent.

As part of its services, Zscaler blocks traffic deemed malicious. The single type of traffic most blocked is for fake antivirus software — software that rubs out the symptoms of worms that act as if they have found victims’ machines infected, then try to sell them the cure. Fake A/V accounted for 13.6 per cent of all the traffic blocked, with Monkif coming in second at 4.4 per cent and Zeus/Zbot coming in third with 2.4 per cent.

Monkif is malware that downloads browser helper objects to compromise a system and display ads or gather browsing data about the machine. Zbot is a network that distribute the Zeus Trojan that steals personal data that enables criminals to steal passwords and compromise victims’ accounts.

Zscaler said in its report that the Google’s autonomous system — its block of IP addresses — is the source of five per cent of all the traffic Zscaler blocks for its customers, the highest percentage for any autonomous system. A good number of these come from services supported by Google including Gmail, Google Groups, and Blogger pages.

Network World (US)

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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