Windows 7 & Internet Explorer – Big Changes at Microsoft

Windows 7 & Internet Explorer – Big Changes at Microsoft

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Microsoft will bid farewell to Internet Explorer and legacy Edge in 2021

Microsoft’s services will drop support for IE11 in a year

Today, we’re announcing that Microsoft 365 apps and services will no longer support Internet Explorer 11 (IE 11) by this time next year.

  • Beginning November 30, 2020, the Microsoft Teams web app will no longer support IE 11.
  • Beginning August 17, 2021, the remaining Microsoft 365 apps and services will no longer support IE 11.
 

This means that after the above dates, customers will have a degraded experience or will be unable to connect to Microsoft 365 apps and services on IE 11. For degraded experiences, new Microsoft 365 features will not be available or certain features may cease to work when accessing the app or service via IE 11. While we know this change will be difficult for some customers, we believe that customers will get the most out of Microsoft 365 when using the new Microsoft Edge. We are committed to helping make this transition as smooth as possible.

Customers have been using IE 11 since 2013 when the online environment was much less sophisticated than the landscape today. Since then, open web standards and newer browsers—like the new Microsoft Edge—have enabled better, more innovative online experiences. We believe that Microsoft 365 subscribers, in both consumer and commercial contexts, will be well served with this change through faster and more responsive web access to greater sets of features in everyday toolsets like Outlook, Teams, SharePoint, and more.

Microsoft will end support for Internet Explorer 11 across its Microsoft 365 apps and services next year. In exactly a year, on August 17th, 2021, Internet Explorer 11 will no longer be supported for Microsoft’s online services like Office 365, OneDrive, Outlook, and more. Microsoft is also ending support for Internet Explorer 11 with the Microsoft Teams web app later this year, with support ending on November 30th.

While it’s still going to take some time to pry enterprise users of Internet Explorer 11 away, Microsoft is hoping that the new Internet Explorer legacy mode in the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser will help. It will continue to let businesses access old sites that were specifically built for Internet Explorer, until Microsoft fully drops support for Internet Explorer 11 within Windows 10. Microsoft’s move to stop supporting Internet Explorer 11 with its main web properties is a good first step, though.

LEGACY EDGE WILL GO AWAY NEXT MARCH

Alongside the support changes, Microsoft is also planning to drop support for its existing legacy version of Microsoft Edge on March 9th, 2021. After the end of support date, the legacy version of Edge will no longer receive security updates. Microsoft has been moving existing Windows 10 users over to new its Chromium-based Edge browser, and the company says new devices and future Windows feature updates will all include the new Edge browser.

Microsoft has been working on killing off Internet Explorer usage and support for years now. The company first unveiled its new Edge browser back in 2015, codenamed at the time Project Spartan. It was the beginning of the end for the Internet Explorer brand. Microsoft has since labeled Internet Explorer a “compatibility solution” rather than a browser and encouraged businesses to stop using the aging browse

FBI issues warning over Windows 7 end-of-life

The FBI says companies running Windows 7 systems are now in greater risk of getting hacked due to a lack of security updates.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has sent a private industry notification (PIN) on Monday to partners in the US private sector about the dangers of continuing to use Windows 7 after the operating system reached its official end-of-life (EOL) earlier this year.

“The FBI has observed cyber criminals targeting computer network infrastructure after an operating system achieves end of life status,” the agency said.

“Continuing to use Windows 7 within an enterprise may provide cyber criminals access in to computer systems. As time passes, Windows 7 becomes more vulnerable to exploitation due to lack of security updates and new vulnerabilities discovered.

“With fewer customers able to maintain a patched Windows 7 system after its end of life, cyber criminals will continue to view Windows 7 as a soft target,” the FBI warned.

FBI URGES COMPANIES TO UPDATE DEVICES

The Bureau is now asking companies to look into upgrading their workstations to newer versions of the Windows operating system.

To this day, Microsoft still allows Windows 7 systems to be upgraded to Windows 10 at no cost — even if this offer officially ended in July 2016.

However, in some cases, the PC’s underlying hardware may not support the (free) upgrade to a much more powerful system like Windows 10, a challenge that the FBI acknowledged in its alert, citing costs that companies might need to support to buy new hardware and software.

“However, these challenges do not outweigh the loss of intellectual property and threats to an organization,” the FBI said — suggesting that companies should keep an eye on the bigger picture down the road and how future losses from possible hacks might easily outweigh today’s upgrade costs.

The agency specifically cited the previous Windows XP migration debacle as the perfect example of why companies should migrate systems as soon as possible, rather than delay.

“Increased compromises have been observed in the healthcare industry when an operating system has achieved end of life status. After the Windows XP end of life on 28 April 2014, the healthcare industry saw a large increase of exposed records the following year,” the FBI said.

WEAPONIZED WINDOWS 7 VULNERABILITIES ALREADY EXIST

Furthermore, the FBI also cited several powerful Windows 7 vulnerabilities that have been frequently weaponized over the past few years.

This includes the EternalBlue exploit (used in the original WannaCry and by multiple subsequent crypto-mining operations, financial crime gangs, and ransomware gangs) and the BlueKeep exploit (which allows attackers to break into Windows 7 devices that have their RDP endpoint enabled).

The agency said that despite the presence of patches for these issues, companies have failed to patch impacted systems. In this case, replacing older and abandoned systems may be the best solution overall.

While companies are looking into upgrading systems, the FBI recommends that they also look into:

  • Ensuring anti-virus, spam filters, and firewalls are up to date, properly configured, and secure.
  • Auditing network configurations and isolate computer systems that cannot be updated.
  • Auditing your network for systems using RDP, closing unused RDP ports, applying two-factor authentication wherever possible, and logging RDP login attempts.