Edge Will Replace Internet Explorer After It Is Gone

It may seem as though Internet Explorer is the browser that will not die, but according to Microsoft, it is now a step closer to breathing its last virtual breath.

Microsoft has struggled in the browser wars for the entire existence of the internet.

They came late to the party. Although they did manage to beat out early dominant browsers like Opera and Netscape Navigator, their Internet Explorer was soon eclipsed by nimbler and better browsers.  The company simply didn’t devote enough resources to the quest in a timely enough fashion to gain an iron grip on the market share.

Eventually, having lost ground to Firefox, Google’s Chrome, and others, the Redmond Giant gave up on Explorer and started from scratch with Edge.

Edge is unquestionably better. However, in the Enterprise ecosystem, several web-based applications had been developed by the time Microsoft decided to retire the browser. Given that, Microsoft continued supporting the code long after they had ceased active development on it.

All things come to an end however, and nearly 27 years after its initial launch, Microsoft has announced the end of support for Internet Explorer on most Windows versions as of June 15th.  So, by the time you read these words, it will be all over for the ancient browser.

Even this isn’t the absolute end.  The company’s new Edge browser has an “Edge IE Mode” which emulates the old Internet Explorer for the purpose of allowing Enterprise customers who haven’t upgraded their Legacy sites and web-based applications to continue using them under the new Edge umbrella.

According to Microsoft, Edge IE Mode will continue to be offered until at least 2029. If you still have Legacy code that hasn’t been updated at that point, all bets are off.  Although few people will actually miss the old browser, its demise does feel a bit like the end of an era.

Users Without Internet Explorer Updates Are Vulnerable To Malware

Researchers at Bitdefender have discovered a new malware campaign.  This one uses an attack method that has fallen out of favor in recent months, called the Exploit Kit.

Exploit Kits used to be all the rage. Flash Player was a popular target for Exploit Kit based attacks but it is now a thing of the past. Therefore, the popularity of the Exploit Kit has declined markedly.

Someone is apparently trying to give it a comeback, however. It has been made possible by the fact that there are a growing number of users on the internet who don’t prioritize updating their browser software. Notably, the users still relying on Internet Explorer are particularly vulnerable since it is no longer receiving security updates.

The latest campaign has been dubbed RIG EK. It exploits CVE-2021026411 which is a flaw in Internet Explorer that causes memory corruption when visiting a specially crafted website.  Once the group has a victim on the hook, they deploy a malware strain called RedLine which is an inexpensive but quite powerful infostealer. It is especially popular on Russian-speaking hacking forums.

Once RedLine is installed, the hackers will exfiltrate all the data they can from the victim’s device, focusing on stored payment card information, cryptocurrency wallet information, and other high value data.

The RIG EK campaign doesn’t really do anything new. However, the hackers behind it have found new ways to breathe life into older techniques that had become rarely seen on the threat landscape, and that makes it a genuine threat.

If your organization hasn’t historically prioritized browser updates, this might be a good time to consider changing that policy. If you’re still using Internet Explorer for one reason or another, it’s past time to apply some resources to the task of transitioning away from it. Even if for no other reason than to give yourself a few less headaches.

One Click Default Browser Choice Coming To Windows 11

One of the latest revelations to come from the Windows 11 development team is that Microsoft is working on streamlining the process of setting a default web browser for Windows 11 users.

The new paradigm under development will allow the selection to be made with a single click!

The new change was rolled out on March 28th as part of the company’s “C Week” Windows 11 update preview. The plan is to make the new option available to all Windows 11 insiders as of the next Patch Tuesday update on April 12th.

Microsoft has been aggressive in its efforts to force Windows 11 users to stick with their Edge browser by default. A big part of how they’ve been doing that has been to make the process of switching away from Edge a cumbersome, multi-step process, That has been quite frankly, annoying.

At the end of 2021 however, the company finally decided to change that. No doubt after legions of Windows 11 Insiders complained loudly about the issue and finally we’re beginning to see those changes in action.

If you’re currently using Windows 11 and you don’t want to wait, you can manually download the KB5011563 build preview.  Once it is installed go to “Default App” and you can select your default browser with a single click like Windows 10 users can do currently.

We totally understand why Microsoft wants everybody to use their Edge browser.  Unfortunately, if that’s what they really want then the solution is to make the Edge browser good enough and compelling enough that users will want to voluntarily switch to it.  By forcing the issue, Microsoft is hurting their own case and driving people away from Edge.

It seems that the company is finally on that page, and that’s great news for everyone.

This New Malware Steals Passwords From Popular Browsers

A new threat has appeared on the horizon. Even if the name is not familiar to you this malware strain is bad news indeed.

Called RedLine it is an information-stealing malware that specifically targets popular web browsers including Opera, Microsoft’s Edge browser, and Chrome.

Unfortunately, many people have come to rely on their trusty web browser to store and remember their passwords for them. RedLine takes advantage of this and the group behind the code has found a way to crack the browser open and grab the passwords stored within.

Even worse is that RedLine isn’t just isolated to a single gang or group of cyber criminals.  Instead, it is being offered as a commodity on the Dark Web. That means anybody with about $200 USD can buy a copy and start harvesting the credentials of anyone they infect.

While it is true that passwords stored inside web browsers are encrypted, RedLine can programmatically decrypt those passwords if they are logged in as the same user which is very much the case here.  RedLine runs as the user who was infected which means that all of their passwords are open to the person controlling the malware.

Although it is highly convenient the bottom line is that it’s dangerous to have all of your passwords stored inside your web browser.  If you insist on going that route, then your best bet by far is to enable two-factor authentication on every website you visit frequently that offers it. That is so at least if your passwords are compromised the hackers who gain access to the information still can’t easily access your accounts.

Given how RedLine is being marketed on the Dark Web we can expect to see a surge in attacks using the malware in the months ahead.  It’s going to get a lot worse before it starts getting any better.

Microsoft Really Wants People To Use Their Edge Browser

It’s no real secret that Microsoft has never been a big fan of Chrome, FireFox, or any other web browser that it didn’t build.  The company clearly hasn’t gotten over the fact that it lost the browser wars and lost them handily. That’s why it keeps trying periodically to reinvent the wheel offering up new and improved versions first of its “Internet Explorer” browser and more recently of Microsoft Edge.

The latest incarnation of Edge is interesting in that it was built around Chromium. That means under the hood the new Edge and Google’s Chrome browser sport the same basic technology.

Unfortunately, even that hasn’t been enough to keep users from downloading Chrome. Naturally Microsoft wants to do anything that it can in a bid to keep users browsing via the browser that ships with Windows. The company has begun bombarding users with messages when they try to download Google Chrome.

There are a few different prompts a user may see including:

  • “‘I hate saving money,’ said no one ever. Microsoft Edge is the best browser for online shopping.”
  • “That browser is so 2008! Do you know what’s new?  Microsoft Edge.”
  • “Microsoft Edge runs on the same technology as Chrome, with the added trust of Microsoft.”

The new prompts are appearing mostly for Windows 11 users though some Windows 10 users have reported them as well. They aren’t part of any website but rather are generated from inside Microsoft Edge as a kind of “defense mechanism” to guard against being replaced.

This kind of thing verges on being dirty pool and although Google hasn’t issued any kind of formal response you can bet that one will be coming. Google isn’t the kind of company that will take a direct threat to its browser dominance lying down so the months ahead should be interesting indeed.