Staying up-to-date on the latest advances in technology is more than just a trendy habit to always have the newest "thing." It's also how people, and businesses, can stay relevant in a constantly evolving market. Having obsolete technology can leave companies behind and disrupt the flow of their business. Come January 1, 2016, some outdated tech may leave people offline completely.
Updating the encrypted web
Currently, most websites are protected by Secure Hash Algorithm 1, an encryption process that helps to hide secure data, like login information and passwords, on certified websites. SHA-1 works by creating a cryptograph of letters and numbers to mask secure messages, computer codes and other protected data.
There are security concerns with SHA-1, however, that have made it vulnerable to hackers and other forms of cyber attacks. Inverse reports that new computers and advances in hacking technology have made cracking SHA-1 codes faster, easier and cheaper.
To combat these risks, the CA/Browser Forum, which sets the web's encryption policies, is updating the coding used on secured sites to the new SHA-2, to take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
"Four to 5 percent of Internet users will no longer have online access."
Outdated technology and SHA-2
While experts agree that changing the security measures for the web is a correct step in the right direction, there is a particularly glaring problem that this switch creates: phones and computers more than five years old will not be able to access SHA-2 sites.
"This is a story about encryption and the conflict between how you support the future and the past at the same time," Matthew Prince, CEO of the web hosting and security company CloudFare, said to BuzzFeed News. "What the folks on the CA/Browser Forum say is that we should force people to move into the future, and that is a compelling argument. But we were studying what the potential effects of this were… and the problem is that people across the world, most of them in the developing world, use old phones or desktops that don't update themselves, and they won't be able to access the Internet."
Prince estimates that at the start of the new year, 4 to 5 percent of Internet users will no longer have online access.
The number of users who have incompatible technology are highest in parts of Asia and Africa, with China, Cameroon and Yemen topping the list, but any consumer or company still operating on outdated information technology in the U.S. will also be cut off from service.
While some sites, like Facebook, are developing their own coding that will help users continue access, Prince and other industry representatives are calling for requirement changes to give people more time to address the issue.
Staying current with the latest technology
Businesses, especially those that operate primarily in the IT industry, must always stay on the cutting edge of the latest advances in tech. Even on a smaller scale, equipment that is even slightly out of date can quickly become obsolete in the industry if it is unable to support the constant stream of new software or browser upgrades.
Customers rely on their IT companies to know these latest changes and will expect only the most current equipment from the places they do business with. An IT company using obsolete or even just slightly outdated technology that doesn't support the newest software will instantly lose credibility with clients, which could result in a loss of business.
To operate effectively, businesses need to have the latest and greatest in IT equipment to avoid any sudden or unexpected disruption in performance. Even if programs still operate on the older technology, it is likely more vulnerable to security risks and bugs that are repaired in newer versions.
IT and tech industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, a nationwide provider of commercial lending solutions for small and mid-size businesses. Marlin's equipment financing and loan products are offered directly to businesses, and through third party vendor programs, which include manufacturers, distributors, independent dealers and brokers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.