Is your SMB’s network exposed to vulnerabilities by using Internet Explorer? Are any of your staff running an outdated version of Internet Explorer (IE)? If so, your client, server, network components embedded operating system, and exposed to vulnerabilities, malware and hacks.
On January 12, 2016, Microsoft stopped supporting outdated versions of IE, exposing your computer networks and leaving it less secure. This means that any client machine running Windows 7 SP1 or later must be using IE 11 if they still want security updates. With approximately 20% of the desktop browser market using IE version 6-10, this leaves a large part of the market of IE users open to hackers, exploits and vulnerabilities.
This is compounded when you realize that a majority of these businesses can’t upgrade as their existing IE is integrated with custom legacy web applications that aren’t compatible with newer iterations of IE. But don’t fear, we have your IT solution. We have collected and listed options for SMBs who are still running unsupported IE on their machines.
1. Ensure you’re entire network is updated and running the latest firmware.
Running the latest patches and downloading the latest firmware updates for your computers is the first step in ensuring your safety and that your SMB isn’t vulnerable to attacks. This is because the biggest issue with out of date software is that they aren’t routinely patched. This results in vulnerabilities that appear overtime and that are available to malware, intruders and hackers looking to take advantage of them. Enhance your network management system. Updating to ensure you have your network operating smoothly is your first line of defense against any security incidents.
Luckily for Internet Explorer users, Microsoft has provided network management tools and has issued a last set of patches before discontinuing support for IE version 6 to 10. This means users will get the most up to date security patch without having to update to IE version 11. They’ll have access to the latest technical support and any necessary program patches available to whichever version you’re currently using. After doing this, you want to ensure other programs that are intertwined or dependent on IE are all updated as well, as one weak link in the system can mean you’re unduly exposed without knowing it. This can prove as simply as updating through your traditional software update or going through each program and updating manually. Additionally, having routine updates running daily or weekly, ensures you stay safe and don’t have any backdoors open for intruders and hackers to access.
This is one easy step to ensure your cyber security isn’t overlooked.
2. Reduce the privileges of your users.
Reducing or downgrading the network privileges of your users could eliminate 99.5% of all vulnerabilities in IE. Does anyone have network administrator privileges they don’t need? Remove them. Are there any IP addresses that your users won’t need access to? Remove them. Did any users get elevated privileges to help troubleshoot network problems? Don’t forget to downgrade their privileges.
Once their privileges are reduced, they’ll require administrator permission to make system-related changes to the operation of their computer. The more power a user has, the more power is available to be abused by sophisticated malware that has gained access to their device. Reduce their power and improve your IT security.
This is highly effective against the risk of common browser-based malware attacks and serves as a preventative measure against any vulnerabilities against your network. It prevents computers that are running out of date software from being attacked and manipulated by hackers, malware or intruders.
Demote user privileges to a well-defined standard that allows them to get their work done efficiently without opening any IT security holes. This will also reduce the amount of harm that malware can potentially inflict.
3. Disconnect when possible.
One of the problems of having and using outdated software is the likelihood that eventually you will become the target of someone looking to take advantage and exploit the vulnerabilities in your system.
Thus, it’s important to disconnect your network device from the internet when you’re not using it, to ensure you aren’t exposed to possible threats during your downtime. This is an inexpensive, secure practice that offers you the protection of limiting exposure you have to potential risks and ensures you stay safe by being more aware of the potential risks when you are plugged in and online.
You can also make use of other internet browsers, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Safari while routinely browsing to leverage more updated and secure browsers. This ensures you aren’t risking the possibility of being attacked while leisurely browsing on your break or while installing software. You can maintain proper firewall settings to only allow access to these programs at specific times and not others.
This allows you to make use of these programs when you need them.
4. Virtualize and segregate.
Due to the nature and vulnerability of using end-of-life software, many companies have started using virtualized and segregated networks to ensure fault management and risk mitigation while still making use of these softwares.
This is because in a large network you can control the scope and magnitude of your environment and in the likelihood of an attack, only that specific virtual space or segregated network is affected, leaving your remaining network management system safe.
This is perfect when using particularly risky applications such as IE version 6-10, as you now have the option of running it and not exposing your network to vulnerabilities or malware. In the case of a security incident, network segregation allows you to isolate the infected or attacked section and not have it affect your main network.
This can be a huge preventative and protective feature, as it allows you to have full access to all the programs you need to run your business. At the same time it will limit the impact of an attack, reducing downtimes, saving money and effort.
If you’re interested in virtual servers and isolated environment, visit out Server Management Page.
5. Tighten and layer defenses.
The best defense against cyber-attacks is an offense. You have to ensure your entire security system is tightened and that you have multiple defenses to protect you from attacks.
Let’s face it, cyber-attacks are continually increasing and SMBs are being targeted more than ever because of their size. The scope of their existing security systems makes them an easy target for intruders to exploit their network resources.
Therefore, it’s impertinent that as a business you ensure all your security is up to date and running the most updated protection services and hardware and software versions, available. Allowing you to focus on limiting damage from and protecting against your weakest link.
You should also remove any other out-of-date software that is not vital to your business.
Microsoft has hinted that it will stop supporting IE version 6-10 for some time now, so there will be updated versions of any plug-ins or applications associated with IE available in anticipation. Therefore, it shouldn’t be too hard to find alternative options to existing services and applications your SMB uses.
Updating your network management tools allows you the energy and space to focus on more important projects for your business.
When combined and used in conjunction with the above security measures you can ensure that your security system is built and running to protect you. It offers a level of security that reduces the impact and mitigates the risk of using out of date software
Ensuring your safety especially when using outdated software is your first priority and should be your number one task. We always recommend upgrading immediately, but if you are unable to, following these 5 steps will ensure you’re taking an active role in protecting your data and mitigating any risks with using out of date or unsupported software.
If you’re still worried or concerned regarding the security of your system or integrity of your system, we offer an IT audit to ensure you’re adequately prepared and protected against all threats, and that your entire IT system is working. Get checked out today.