Should You Update Your Internet Browser? (Hint: Yes!)

Often when we encounter learners who are having trouble accessing our courses, it is as a result of Internet browser issues. And the truth of the matter is some browsers are just better, and present fewer problems, than others. (But, no matter the source of any issue, our Support Team is here and ready to troubleshoot.)

Browser questions you’re too afraid to ask

First things first: what exactly is a browser? (I’ll admit I didn’t know exactly what a browser was until I started writing this post. I mean, yes, I knew that a browser is what you use to access the Internet, but I didn’t know much beyond that.) Here’s what I found: A browser is a piece of software that lets you visit webpages and use web applications. Browsers also affect Internet speed and how new technology is displayed.

Not sure what browser or version you’re using? Whatbrowser.org is a website that will quickly help you figure out what browser you’re using and if you’re using the most current version of that browser.

Using an up-to-date browser is important

While it may seem that the biggest issue with using an outdated browser is the inconvenience of a website not working properly, there are actually far more serious consequences. A browser that is not up-to-date is vulnerable to being compromised by criminals. This could result in sensitive and personal information being stolen or destroyed. In some cases, your computer can even be used as a “middle man” to commit online crimes.

A prime example of this is the “Poodle” bug that was discovered last month. This security bug exploits an old version of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) - SSL 3.0, to be exact. SSL provides a secure connection online for transmitting private data online. (Sites that use SSL display a padlock icon in your browser’s URL.) The version of SSL that was affected only works with older browsers, such as IE6 (so for your own cyber safety, upgrade away from IE6!).

Older versions of certain browsers may not even be supported by the company that made them. This means users of unsupported browsers will not be able to get any technical support or security updates. For example, Microsoft no longer supports Internet Explorer 6 (even though it still runs on certain operating systems). And after January 12, 2016, Microsoft will end support Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8.

How to update your browser

Now that you know why you should be using the most up to date browser, here’s a great resource on how to update it, regardless of which browser you’re using.

And on the topic of updating, it’s also important to update your operating system, especially if if no longer supports any modern browsers. While this earlier post covers the importance of the updating from Windows XP, the takeaways are true of all operating systems.