Security features are regularly updated in browsers, and it’s important that they be installed. Web browsers pass confidential information entered by you to the websites you visit, and their ability to keep that information secure may be their most critical feature. Given that, it’s important to keep your browser updated with the latest security releases.
We are particularly interested in getting the Hampshire community to upgrade to browsers that support a security feature called TLS v1.2. It’s a protocol working behind the scenes to keep your data secure as it is passed from browser to website.
Keeping Firefox Updated
Despite the importance of keeping security features up to date, there is a downside to updating browsers too frequently: websites may not be able to keep up with the changing features. We have seen issues like this with Mozilla Firefox, which rolls out new release every couple of months. Mozilla realizes this is an issue, and they have a slower release schedule that you can follow if you use the Extended Support Release (ESR) version; the ESR gives you security updates on a regular basis, but feature releases only come once a year. We recommend Hampshire computers stay current with the ESR version. Firefox has had TLS v1.2 support enabled since version 27; ESR is currently on version 38, and the general release is up to 44.
To check what version of Firefox you have installed use the FirefoxAbout Firefox menu on a Mac, and HelpAbout Firefox menu on Windows. There is an automatic update option in the About Firefox window, and if it works it’s very handy; in our experience it sometimes fails, in which case you can go to https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/organizations/all/ for the latest ESR release. (A note to Mac users: if you are unable to copy the new version of Firefox into your Applications folder because you don’t have permission, throw the old version in the trash before copying the new one over.)
If you use Google Chrome, the default settings are to have it automatically update itself, and we recommend that you keep it that way. Learn more about keeping Chrome up to date.
If you use Apple’s built in web browser, Safari, it will be updated through the Software Update mechanism–these days this is handled through the App Store application. Note that if you are using a version of OS X earlier than 10.9 then there is no version of Safari available that supports TLS v1.2. If you are concerned, you can switch to a different browser or upgrade your system to the current OS–but the latter option comes with its own caveats and may not be possible on older computers anyway.
Microsoft Internet Explorer
If you’re using Internet Explorer, don’t. Internet Explorer 11 does support TLS v1.2, but Firefox and Chrome are both better browsers.
If you’re using Edge you’re pretty much on your own. Literally. Well, Edge does support TLS v1.2 but we–apparently like most of the world–don’t have experience with it or any compelling reason to switch.