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The Ghost of Internet Explorer Will Haunt the Web for Years

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The Ghost of Internet Explorer Will Haunt the Web for Years

After years of decline and a final wind-down over the past 13 months, on Wednesday Microsoft confirmed the retirement of Internet Explorer, the company’s long-lived and increasingly notorious web browser. Launched in 1995, IE came preinstalled on Windows computers for almost two decades, and like Windows XP, Internet Explorer became a mainstay—to the point that when it was time for users to upgrade and move on, they often didn’t. And while last week’s milestone will push even more users off the historic browser, security researchers emphasize that IE and its many security vulnerabilities are far from gone.

In the coming months, Microsoft will disable the IE app on Windows 10 devices, guiding users instead to its next-generation Edge browser, first released in 2015. The IE icon will still remain on users’ desktops, though, and Edge incorporates a service called “IE mode” to preserve access to old websites built for Internet Explorer. Microsoft says it will support IE mode through at least 2029. Additionally, IE will still work for now on all supported versions of Windows 8.1, Windows 7 with Microsoft’s Extended Security Updates, and Windows Server, though the company says it will eventually phase IE out in these, too.  

Seven years after the debut of Edge, industry analysis indicates that Internet Explorer may still hold more than half a percent of the total global browser market share. And in the United States, that share may be closer to as much as 2 percent.

“I do think we’ve made progress, and we probably won’t see as many exploits against IE in the future, but we will still have remnants of Internet Explorer for a long time that scammers can take advantage of,” says Ronnie Tokazowski, a longtime independent malware researcher. “Internet Explorer as the browser will be gone, but there are still pieces that exist.”

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For something that’s been around as long as IE, backward compatibility is difficult to balance with the desire for a clean slate. “We haven’t forgotten that some parts of the web still rely on Internet Explorer’s specific behaviors and features,” Sean Lyndersay, the general manager of Microsoft Edge Enterprise, wrote in an IE retrospective on Wednesday, pointing to IE mode.

But he added that there was a real need to start over with Edge rather than trying to salvage IE. “The web has evolved and so have browsers,” he wrote last week. “Incremental improvements to Internet Explorer couldn’t match the general improvements to the web at large, so we started fresh.”

Microsoft says it will still support IE’s underlying browser engine, known as “MSHTML,” and it has its eye on versions of Windows still “used in critical environments.” But Maddie Stone, a researcher for Google’s Project Zero vulnerability hunting team, points out that hackers are still exploiting IE vulnerabilities in real-world attacks.

“Since we began tracking in-the-wild 0-days, Internet Explorer has had a pretty consistent number of 0-days each year. 2021 actually tied 2016 for the most in-the-wild Internet Explorer 0-days we’ve ever tracked, even though Internet Explorer’s market share of web browser users continues to decrease,” she wrote in April, referring to previously unknown vulnerabilities, called zero-days. “Internet Explorer is still a ripe attack surface for initial entry into Windows machines, even if the user doesn’t use Internet Explorer as their internet browser.”

In her analysis, Stone particularly noted that while the number of new IE vulnerabilities Project Zero has detected has remained fairly constant, attackers have shifted over the years to increasingly target the MSHTML browser engine through malicious files like tainted Office documents. This could mean that neutering the IE application won’t immediately change attack trends that are already in motion.

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Given how difficult it has been to rein in Internet Explorer at all, Microsoft and IE users around the world have certainly come a long way. But for a browser that’s supposed to be dead, IE still very much loads with the living.

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Here’s Google’s letter saying employees can relocate to states with abortion rights

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Here’s Google’s letter saying employees can relocate to states with abortion rights

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, Google’s chief people officer Fiona Cicconi sent a staff-wide email to employees on Friday informing them of Google’s response to the ruling. Among other things, the email states that Googlers that they can “apply for relocation without justification,” and that people in charge of the relocation process “will be aware of the situation” in assessing their requests.

The Supreme Court’s ruling does not make abortion illegal throughout the US — instead, it leaves the decision up to individual states. A number of states have immediately restricted abortion rights, including Louisiana, Missouri and Kentucky. Other states, including California, where Google is headquartered, have vowed to protect abortion rights within their borders.

Here’s the letter in full:

Hi everyone,

This morning the US Supreme Court issued a ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that rolls back Roe v. Wade.

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This is a profound change for the country that deeply affects so many of us, especially women. Everyone will respond in their own way, whether that’s wanting space and time to process, speaking up, volunteering outside of work, not wanting to discuss it at all, or something else entirely. Please be mindful of what your co-workers may be feeling and, as always, treat each other with respect.

Equity is extraordinarily important to us as a company, and we share concerns about the impact this ruling will have on people’s health, lives, and careers. We will keep working to make information on reproductive healthcare accessible across our products and continue our work to protect user privacy.

To support Googlers and their dependents, our US benefits plan and health insurance covers out-of-state medical procedures that are not available where an employee lives and works. Googlers can also apply for relocation without justification, and those overseeing this process will be aware of the situation. If you need additional support, please connect 1:1 with a People Consultant via [link to internal tool redacted].

We will be arranging support sessions for Googlers in the US in the coming days. These will be posted to Googler News.

Please don’t hesitate to lean on your Google community in the days ahead and continue to take good care of yourselves and each other.

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The Verge has reached out to Google to clarify whether the relocation policy is new, or if it’s be changed due to the Supreme Court’s decision. We will update this story if we hear back.

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Sony studios, major game publishers offer public support for abortion rights

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Sony studios, major game publishers offer public support for abortion rights

enos lives —

Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard, and more respond to Supreme Court decision.

Kyle Orland

Just some of the game franchises represented by studios coming out in support of reproductive rights today.

Enlarge / Just some of the game franchises represented by studios coming out in support of reproductive rights today.

Last month, Insomniac Games (Spider-Man) CEO Ted Price reportedly told his employees that parent company Sony “will not approve ANY statements from any studio on the topic of reproductive rights.” That is apparently no longer true, as Insomniac and other Sony studios have tweeted statements in support of “reproductive freedom” in the wake of this morning’s Supreme Court decision overturning the longstanding Roe v. Wade precedent on the issue.

“We are human beings who make games,” Insomniac tweeted this morning. “Reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy are human rights.”

By the afternoon, many of Sony’s other North American game studios had started tweeting similar messages, including Sucker Punch (Ghost of Tsushima), Naughty Dog (The Last of Us), Santa Monica Studio (God of War), San Diego Studio (MLB: The Show), and Bend Studio (Days Gone). Some of Sony’s European studios, including Media Molecule (LittleBigPlanet), Guerilla Games (Horizon), and PlayStation London Studio, have also joined in with tweeted statements of support.

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“Naughty Dog believes reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy are basic human rights and essential to the health and wellbeing of everyone,” the studio wrote in its tweet. “We will continue to uphold these values and actively support all our employees in receiving the care they need and want.”

Travel and other support

That bit about “actively support[ing]” employees may be less important for the Santa-Monica-based Naughty Dog since California seems likely to continue protecting abortion access via legislation. For Sony studios in less abortion-friendly states, though (such as Austin, Texas-based Bluepoint Games), the parent company has yet to publicly follow the lead of Microsoft, which committed in early May to fund out-of-state travel for employees that needed it to seek abortion-related care.

Destiny-developer (and soon-to-be-Sony-subsidiary) Bungie led the game industry by offering strong public support for “reproductive choice” last month. Today, Bungie updated its public statement on the issue and outlined its own travel-reimbursement program “for any employee to use when they or a dependent cannot get access to the healthcare they need where they live. We remain undeterred in our commitment to stand up for reproductive choice and liberty.”

In a statement provided to the press, Activision Blizzard reaffirmed its plans, first announced earlier this month, to offer “expanded medical travel benefits” for issues “including reproductive health, gender-affirming treatment, transplant care, and any other medical care… that is not available in a covered person’s state, or within 100 miles of where they live.”

Other major game publishers including Ubisoft, Bethesda, Niantic Labs, and Devolver Digital have tweeted out statements in support of reproductive rights today. And the International Game Developers Association told Ars in a statement that “we believe bodily autonomy and choice over one’s own reproductive and healthcare matters” are crucial to the organization’s mission. “One must be in control of their own health matters in order to successfully manage their career and life.”

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Earlier this month (and amid reported pressure from employees) Electronic Arts tweeted a Pride Month statement that included the phrase “Women’s Rights are Human Rights.”

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Mars probe running Windows 98 receives software update after two decades

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Mars probe running Windows 98 receives software update after two decades

Windows 98



(Image credit: Future)

Patch management for the latest versions of Windows might the concern of most of us located here on Earth, but meanwhile, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express spacecraft has received the first update to its Window 98-based system in 19 years.

The mission was first launched to discover of signs of liquid water on Mars, including a suspected 20x30km lake of salty water buried under 1.5 km of ice in the red planet’s southern polar region.

The updates were conducted by engineers from the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF), Italy, and were fully funded by the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

What does this mean?

The agency said the upgrade will enable the spacecraft to view Mars and its moon Phobos with better levels of detail.

The Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS) instrument on Mars Express sends low-frequency radio waves down towards the planet using its 40-metre long antenna.

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Most of these waves are reflected from the planet’s surface, but significant amounts travel through the crust and are reflected at boundaries between layers of different materials below the surface, including ice, soil, rock, and water.

By examining the reflected signals, scientists can map the structure below the surface of Mars to a depth of a few kilometres and study properties such as the thickness and composition of its polar ice caps and the properties of volcanic and sedimentary rock layers.

The space agency didn’t go into a great deal of detail regarding the specs of the hardware receiving the update, however Tom’s Hardware speculated it could have a Pentium 90 processor, meaning it could potentially run classic games such as Doom as well as explore the secrets of Mars.

“Previously, to study the most important features on Mars, and to study its moon Phobos at all, we relied on a complex technique that stored a lot of high-resolution data and filled up the instrument’s on-board memory very quickly,” said Andrea Cicchetti, the MARSIS deputy principal investigator and operation manager at INAF.

He added: “By discarding data that we don’t need, the new software allows us to switch MARSIS on for five times as long and explore a much larger area with each pass.”

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Will McCurdy has been writing about technology for over five years. He has a wide range of specialities including cybersecurity, fintech, cryptocurrency, blockchain, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, payments, retail technology, and venture capital investment. He has previously written for FStech, Retail Systems, and National Technology News and is an experienced podcast and webinar host, as well as an avid long form feature writer.

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