South Korea’s Next Presidential Election Might Finally End Its Bizarre Reliance On Internet Explorer (Forbes)

Moon Jae-in, presidential candidate for South Korea’s main opposition Democratic United Party, reacts with his wife, Kim Jeong-suk, during a campaign rally on Nov. 27, 2012. He is running again this year. Photographer: Seong-joon Cho/Bloomberg

Just last week as I was trying to log in to my bank’s website, I was confronted with a green screen of jumbled code. And at every attempt to close Internet Explorer 11, I am alerted that the browser has stopped working and needs to close. Every. Single. Time.

Iconic as it is, Internet Explorer is falling apart. Koreans can’t stand it anymore, with Chrome quickly overtaking the old Windows browser in the past year:

Chrome has swiftly grabbed market share from Internet Explorer in the past year.

Chrome has swiftly grabbed market share from Internet Explorer in the past year. Credit:

Yet trying to access even basic info on government websites on a different browser will send the page crashing and begging for IE. As I wrote in 2016, South Korea was still dependent on the archaic browser, but how could it be that another year has turned and we still have to deal with this sh**? When does it end?

Finally, someone has heard the cries and swears of frustrated web-savvy netizens across South Korea using the world’s fastest internet on a browser that even Windows is trying to put to bed. Moon Jae-in, the top contender for this year’s general election, has vowed that if he becomes president, he will push to abolish ActiveX — Microsoft’s 1990s software framework that is the brittle cybersecurity solution once forced upon government and financial websites and whose very name makes web users in Korea cringe. And the only browser that still supports ActiveX is, you guessed it, Internet Explorer, a browser gasping its final breaths in South Korea, Japan and Greenland.

South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-in leaves after a news conference declaring his rival’s victory at the party headquarters in Seoul on Dec. 19, 2012. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

He also proposed to do away with the country’s public key certificate system, which is issued by government-certificated institutions to protect online transactions.

Freeing Korea from ActiveX would be the key to unlock the jail cell that is Internet Explorer. Not even Microsoft’s new Edge browser or any Mac supports the archaic framework. That alone might be enough to swing some votes.

Sticking to old ways

Moon acknowledges his proposal is not new. The government actually outlined back in 2009 a reform that mandated that e-government services should be available to everyone, regardless of browser. Then in 2014, President Park Geun-hye reiterated that ActiveX needed to be abolished, albeit so that K-pop fans in China could buy merchandise worn by a celebrity on My Love from the Star.

But an alarming number of public agency websites are still only accessible through IE, including the portals for tax filing, pension, national health insurance, employment insurance and even booking appointments for immigration.

The reason appears to be a sum of poor investments and planning: The National Tax Service said it has spent roughly 200 billion won ($175 million) since 2012 to build its infrastructure on IE. The reason was that there were not many users of Chrome, Firefox, Safari or other browsers at the time, so “we just decided to support IE,” an official from the computer administration department said, as quoted in local media.

Fortunately, the more nimble private sector has taken advantage of recent deregulations and are diving mobile-first into fintech solutions like blockchain, fingerprint recognition and text-message payments to get around the use of digital certificates and a tedious multi-step verification process.

Politics and pwns

While any presidential pledge should be taken with a grain of salt, some enthusiastic netizens are already asking how they can donate to the Moon camp. Ironically, this would probably require the use of Internet Explorer.

Plus, Moon, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, has effectively taken a stab at a fellow contender — Ahn Cheol-soo, a former cybersecurity mogul turned third-party candidate who invented AhnLab, one of the many software programs that Koreans usually must download to use online financial services. Moon and Ahn also briefly ran together in the dramatic presidential campaign loss of 2012, and tensions between the two have been high since then.

Source: SANS ISC SecNewsFeed @ March 3, 2017 at 02:06AM