PC users who have not updated Internet Explorer in a while will need to do so now, as Microsoft officially cuts support for versions 8, 9 and 10 on Tuesday. Anyone still using these versions of the ubiquitous web browser will need to either upgrade to Internet Explorer 11 or switch to Microsoft Edge, the company's official successor to IE.
It may not sound like a big deal, but without support the browsers will grow vulnerable to cyberattacks. Microsoft will no longer send out updates to improve security, meaning that hackers will continue to pick holes in the software to find a way through and steal information.
"Running an unsupported or unpatched version of Internet Explorer is like leaving your car unlocked in public – an extremely preventable risk," said Steve Donald, chief technology officer at cybersecurity firm Hexis Cyber Solutions. Donald said there had been around 646 vulnerabilities found in Internet Explorer versions 7 to 11 in the last three years alone.
It's important to update through official channels. "Be wary of attackers that leverage the chaos during support changes to dupe people into installing malware or giving away personal information," Donald said.
Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users who want to stay safe have two choices. The first option is to update the computer's browser by searching for "windows update" in the start menu and running a full update installation.
The alternative is to upgrade to Windows 10 -- this will be free until July 2016, and Microsoft provides instructions on how to get up to date and stay ahead of the attackers. There's no need to worry about whether a machine can run Windows 10 as the minimum requirements are the same as Windows 8, and just a bit higher than Windows 7.
Microsoft has rolled out a new update for users on Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 still using the older versions of Internet Explorer. The patch, known by its number KB3123303, will inform users that their browser is out of date and they should upgrade.