The Internet is a unique place. Where else can you come in with antiques that are only a few years old? And even more, those “antiques” can put you in danger! Imagine if your car, at the end of the lease, was considered “obsolete”. So much for that ’65 muscle car! May as well get rid of it now before it explodes at a stoplight. Really, it’s only a matter of time!

Yes, the pace of digital improvement is staggering. As is the pace of obsolescence. Part of it is “planned”, where a manufacturer or developer wants you to buy their latest version, so they stop supporting the previous. Another aspect is opportunity cost. Keeping security and compatibility updates flowing for an older product requires staff time and resources. At what point does that investment become a losing proposition?

The core of our network-connected society has become the web browser. What used to be “just another program” on your computer has evolved into an operating system of its own. Suffice it to say, your trusty IE, Firefox, Safari, or Chrome (or Opera, if you’re one of the brave outliers) does an incredible amount of work behind the scenes. They are what allows us to receive notifications from websites, load full 3D games in a webpage, play back videos without additional software, and display engaging websites powered directly by the computer’s video card. If you want to see how far we’ve come, simply install an old version of Mozilla Firefox, say, 1.5 (from 2005), into your computer. Watch how slow browsing becomes, how many sites refuse to load, or do, but with horrid interfaces.

Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad. There are individuals and groups out there which want to do harm to your computer. Some for “fun”, others for profit, and still more for political motivations. As a result, your lock is always being picked. Good thing there are security teams devoted to closing these holes at every company! Security updates are the main reason why you receive regular updates on your computer…do them! Patch Tuesday, the monthly Windows Update, may include dozens of security fixes for the operating system and Internet Explorer. Each time you skip one of these, you are leaving your door unlocked for the person who knows where to look.

Which brings us to the point. I had a peek at my logs for credituniongeek.com. Between the period of November 17, 2014 and December 17th, 2014, my site was visited by potentially unsupported web browsers. 10.28% were using Internet Explorer 8, which, if you’re on XP, is no longer receiving security updates. An additional 4.67% were browsing on IE 7, an incarnation of the program which struggles to load much of the modern internet, and, as well, has unpatched security vulnerabilities. Read Microsoft’s official support policy.

I understand if your credit union has custom software running on old platforms. It’s expensive to change, and if it still serves your staff and members, why upgrade? That’s fine. But these systems cannot be connected to the public internet. Especially at a financial institution, this is asking for security breaches. Even with good procedures, it happens, all, the, time.

For the safety of your credit union, members, and staff, please update your public-facing systems.