Data Science Suggests You Upgrade Your Browser to Be More Secure

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: Windows Blog Archive articles.

First posted to MSDN on Nov, 23 2015

There’s a lot of activity going on now that we are in the home stretch of trying to get everyone upgraded to the latest version of the browser. For example, we’ve just published a couple of blog articles:

Upgrading to a Faster, More Secure Browsing Experience (this one if you’re feeling less nerdy)

Continuing to make it easier for Enterprise customers to upgrade to Internet Explorer 11 — and Windows 10 (this one if you’re feeling more nerdy)

Yes, we’re still investing in trying to make things easier, and we feel we have a role to play in helping you get there! But I still end up chatting with a lot of folks who want to just wish this away, or take a little bit longer.

Interestingly, just today I was chatting with a data scientist named Joe, and we were totally geeking out on statistics. Now, I haven’t been nearly deep enough lately, despite kicking off my technology career developing statistical software (before that I was a disc jokey, naturally), but boy was it fun to roll around in all of the data and think of really interesting questions to ask of it!

What really struck me was that we’re starting to phrase things in terms of risk ratio. It’s a fairly straightforward concept – 100% is the average risk, across all computers, in all configurations. Any time you’re below 100%, you’re better than average. Any time you’re above 100%, you’re worse than average. So, the maths are fairly straightforward here.

Now, looking at the browser in general, when IE is your default browser, the risk ratio was actually above 100% – you were more at risk. But it turns out to be incredibly influenced by WHICH version of IE you happen to be using. Here’s how they stack up:

Default Browser Risk Ratio
Internet Explorer 11 37.60%
Internet Explorer 10 82.10%
Internet Explorer 9 202.40%
Internet Explorer 8 277.10%

So, it turns out that customers who run IE11 are more than 7 times less likely to have malware than customers running IE8 – and more than 2 times less likely than the average user!

And these are numbers as they exist prior to end of support!

Now, since it’s a comparison to average, of course this will change over time – as IE11 becomes more typical then the risk ratio changes. As IE8 becomes more atypical, and loses its support, its risk ratio changes. As with all security changes, it’s not one and done – this one upgrade doesn’t do it, but this data point, among others, reinforces the strategy that, to stay secure, you need to get current and stay current.

For anyone interested in the full article, it’s here: Make your browsing 14x safer for the holidays!

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