THE US GOVERNMENT has sent out a warning out to internet users through its Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), pleading users to stop using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
Following a malware attack last week which targeted a known flaw in IE, like so many other attacks, the US-CERT recommended using alternative browsers thanks to their increased security.
At any time, we could see MSIE‘s dominance in the browser market fade back to a minority. All it takes is something like an antitrust lawsuit injunction, or in this case, a security hole so gaping that governments will warn their citizens against it’s use for their own protection.
You’ve heard me go on about MSIE‘s security problems before. But as I look at my web server stats, I see many of you aren’t taking my advice and trying another browser. So instead of ranting about the security no-nos of using MSIE, I’m going to talk about web standards.
This is precisely why you don’t design websites to work on just one browser. It’s such a trivial, avoidable risk, and it’s not difficult at all to do things the right way. Using web standards and best practices ensure that your site design will keep it’s integrity no matter how the winds of the browser market might change course. It was only a few years ago that Netscape was the dominant browser out there, and empires have been known to collapse under their own enormous mass.
There are dozens of reasons why you code to web standards. Perhaps most importantly, it’s just bad business to not do so. If 90% of the browsers out there are MSIE, you still have another 10% of your users on something else – other desktop web browsers, other devices such as PDAs and mobile phones, and assistive technologies for those with disabilities. Why would you want to turn 10% of your customers away just because of something as trivial as a web browser, when it is so easy to embrace them?
And keeping in mind the story that prompted this posting – that percentage could turn on you at any moment, without warning. Those who have coded to web standards will not be left with their pants down while others scramble to get their sites up to snuff.