Did you know that Internet Explorer still has a 75% market share in South Korea? Neither did we until a story broke about how the government tied everybody into using it. Thanks to legislation and government insistence that everybody use a South Korean SSL standard called SEED, IE still has majority share of all internet users in the country. Over 75% of users have Internet Explorer, while only 26% use it in Europe. SEED was a 128-bit SSL encryption standard adopted by the South Korean government as the default for all online transactions in the country. Unfortunately, it needed Active X to work properly, meaning everybody had to use IE to be able to use SEED. Even though SEED is no longer mandatory, that market share persists. That has prompted South Korean politician and presidential hopeful Ahn Cheol-soo to use this as a standard for his campaign. One of his plans is to remove the insistence for SEED and adopt a more open standard for internet security. The potential fly in the ointment is that Ahn Cheol-soo founded one of the most popular antivirus labs in Korea, Ahn Lab. So while the end result may be overwhelmingly positive, the motives behind it might not be completely altruistic. The problems with IE are legion, as are the pieces that highlight them. We won’t go there, we shall instead focus on how the browsing habits of a nation are at risk thanks to government intervention. From a desire to make their country more secure, they have in fact made it more prone to hacks, malware and other attacks. The insistence on only using a home-made solution that shackled them to using Internet Explorer is a contradiction that would make western companies shake their heads in dismay. While IE9 has moved on a lot since the debacles that were IE6,7 and 8, they are still the main focus for attacks. Rightly, or wrongly, Internet Explorer is still the subject of the ire of every web security consultant you ever speak to. Despite being more secure than ever, it is still regarded as less secure than Chrome or Firefox. It will be interesting to see how the election pans out and whether other candidates take up the internet security mantle if Ahn Cheol-soo doesn’t get elected.

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