The few remaining users of Internet Explorer 6 are about to get a rude awakening when the internet abruptly stops working for them very soon. It's about time.
Google just published information about the adorably named POODLE bug it discovered in SSL 3.0, a legacy security protocol that's been abandoned by all but the most stubborn of web servers. The bug leaves your data wide open to man-in-the-middle attacks,and shouldn't be used by anyone.
Luckily, servers have mostly upgraded to contemporary Transport Layer Security (TLS), but browsers continue to support the old protocol for fear that users would run up against a brick wall when they tried to load a page hosted behind SSL 3.0.
Website owners, however, have been and might remain reluctant to completely abandon the outmoded and obviously vulnerable protocol because a full 3.8 per cent of web surfers still use Internet Explorer 6.0, which doesn't support TLS. That's pretty ridiculous considering the last stable release was published back in 2006, and Microsoft has been begging people to stop using IE 6 for more than three years:
It's not often that we encourage you to stop using one of our products, but for #IE6, we'll make an exception: http://bit.ly/g0wt4m
— Microsoft (@Microsoft) March 4, 2011
People are funny sometimes. They won't give up an old, comfortable habit until there's literally no other option, or at least, until there's no compelling reason to change.
That time is about to come for IE 6 users, when the internet goes dark for these sad people. Following the latest revelation, Chrome will disable SSL 3.0 within some weeks, and Firefox has already said that it will disable it by default on November 25. It won't be long until servers have completely abandoned SSL 3.0 for the protection of their users.
And it's a good thing! While I'm not looking forward to the sadness and confusion that will ooze forth from IE 6's devoted, the truth is they have been missing out on some of the best design and features the web has to offer. When they upgrade to a new browser, they will lose the rusty internet barge they'd been riding too long, only to realise that the view's much better from the SS Chrome.