Recently I heard about a conversation between a real estate industry software vendor and a local association where the association requested that the vendor maintain compatibility with an old browser because agents with Windows XP could not upgrade to a newer version. If I had been party to the discussion, I would have argued vigorously against maintaining compatibility and for the association to start putting pressure on its members to upgrade.
According to Standard of Practice 1-9 it is “the obligation of REALTORS® to preserve confidential information … provided by their clients,” and according to the Preamble, to “eliminate practices which may damage the public or which might discredit or bring dishonor to the real estate profession. When an agent uses a non-supported operating system with known vulnerabilities and a web browser with its own set of vulnerabilities, he or she is not taking reasonable steps to preserve the confidential information which likely resides on that computer. The security incident that can stem from using a known vulnerable computer can certainly “damage the public” and “bring dishonor to the profession.”
Not everyone understands the level of vulnerability in Windows XP and Internet Explorer 8. So, here are a few references:
For IE 8 vulnerabilities, see: http://cvedetails.com/vulnerability-list/vendor_id-26/product_id-9900/version_id-57626/Microsoft-Internet-Explorer-8.html
Note that even newer versions of Internet Explorer have known vulnerabilities, though fewer than older versions.
Compare this with Firefox (using the same site as referenced earlier):
Or the most current version of Chrome:
Or the most current version of Safari:
As for Windows XP itself, Microsoft has been trumpeting to the world for years that it would no longer be providing security patches for it after April of 2014, and it looks like the patches being released this month won’t work on XP. Technically capable users who attempt to illicitly modify their Windows XP installations to accept Microsoft patches intended for later operating systems run a monthly risk of making those computers permanently inoperable. Anyone who has been putting off an XP upgrade for years but needs to maintain the security of their computer and the information that passes through it or is stored on it is out of time.
For REALTORS® who are charged with preserving confidential information as a standard of practice, upgrading to software that minimizes vulnerability is mandatory is not an option.
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