Microsoft's much-maligned Internet Explorer 6 web browser remains approved for use in seven of 65 Federal Government agencies polled in a new browser survey.
The survey, by the eGov AU blog, found most agencies supported multiple web browsers - generally Internet Explorer and one other.
IE6 remains in use at several small agencies with significant public or safety responsibilities such as the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), AusAID and the Office of Parliamentary Counsel.
Others are substantial or with important public responsibilities such as the Department of Health & Ageing, The National Native Title Tribunal, The National Film & Sound Archive and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
IE6 has been widely criticised for its security issues and lack of support for modern web standards.
Even Microsoft has called for its extinction by tracking its gradual disappearance. In July this year, Microsoft estimated only 0.8 percent of Australians use IE6 for internet browsing.
While Microsoft still patches IE6, agencies that continue to allow outdated versions of Internet Explorer are effectively turning their backs on one of the top four cyber security mitigation strategies recommended by the Defence Signals Directorate [pdf].
“Agencies should avoid using versions of software which are outdated…(O)lder versions of Microsoft Office are significantly more vulnerable to attack and the same is especially true for Internet browsers and PDF viewing software," the DSD states.
eGov AU's survey comes after an iTnews poll in March which found IE6 use in environments where apps depended on the outdated browser.
The eGov AU survey found 21 agencies with IE9, 49 agencies using IE8, 13 agencies using IE7 and seven agencies on IE6.
Only one version of the Internet Explorer can be installed on Windows at any one time.
Of non-Microsoft browsers, the eGov AU survey showed the most popular was Safari 5 (31 agencies), followed by Firefox 10 (13 agencies), Firefox 9 (12 agencies) and Chrome (9x to 16x, nominated by 10 agencies).
Two Federal agencies - Prime Minister & Cabinet, and the Department of Immigration & Citizenship - declined to disclose the versions of web browsers they sanction, citing commercial-in-confidence.
“Agencies might be upgrading to modern browsers for desktop and laptop, but still have challenges in addressing mobile devices, and are often using old content management systems which do not allow effective mobile formatting,” eGov AU's Craig Thomler told iTnews.
“With the growth in mobile browsing, this will be a major challenge agencies will have to address over the next three years.”
Update (August 15): Four of the seven agencies identified as IE6 users have disputed the survey's findings. The Office of Parliamentary Counsel said it deployed IE7 three years ago, and moved to IE8 and Windows 7 in January 2011.
A spokeswoman for the National Native Title Tribunal said the tribunal used IE9. AusAid said it used IE7 to IE9, and did "not use IE6 as part of the standard operating environment"
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said it had "not used the IE6 web browser for some time, however there may be rare instances where it still exists on an old historical computer within the agency".
iTnews is investigating the discrepancies. We apologise for the confusion.
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