Rampant Use of Non-Standard Technology “ActiveX Controls”
SEOUL, KOREA — In Korea, the installation of ActiveX controls is not an option. It has long been a necessary procedure indiscriminately embraced by a majority. Once Internet users visit private websites, such as finance, shopping, games and music and government websites including National Tax Service (NTS), Supreme Court of Korea and Korea Financial Telecommunications & Clearings Institute (KTFC), they end up encountering numerous, onerous pop-up messages and warnings that require all the visitors to install ActiveX controls. As a matter of fact, except for Internet Explorer (IE) users, Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari users can not browse around websites using ActiveX controls since those websites do not function properly on Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari.
Then, how heavily are Active X controls being used by Korean websites A survey of a total of 100 commercial websites showed that as many as 86 websites were using on average four ActiveX controls. In particular, Netmarble (a game portal) was using a whopping 12 Active controls, KB Kookmin Bank11, Hana Bank 10, Auction ( an online shopping website) 10,NHN’s Hangame ( Korea’s largest game portal) 10,Nonghyup Bank (one of the major banks in Korea) 10. The websites for public institutions were no different. Out of 100, 82 public websites were using, on average, 3.7 ActiveX controls. Among them, Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) has 7ActiveX controls, Korea Financial Telecommunications & Clearings Institute (KTFC) 6, Government Employees Pension Service (GEPS) 6 and Korea Expressway Corporation (EX) 5. Indeed, the official website of public entities were using ActiveX controls as heavily as private websites.
However, popular ActiveX controls are not a standard technology. When the Internet started to gain ground, Microsoft developed the ActiveX platform to add functionality (which the Internet Explorer web standard could not realize efficiently)to Internet-ready applications like web browsers and media players. Therefore, ActiveX controls may be useful for Internet developers, but they are nothing but a troublesome, nonstandard technology for general Internet users. On top of that, the Active X controls are poor at interoperability and keep installing unnecessary files, so your computers get slower, opening the way for malicious codes.
Will Korea Finally Kick Out the Vexing Active X Controls
On April 13, Microsoft’s Windows 8 release preview was launched for Internet developers. Two versions of Internet Explorer 10 were unveiled, one of which was Internet Explorer 10 using the metro interface that does not allow the installation of ActiveX controls and plug-ins from the beginning. Just like Apple yanked Flash out of the iPhone and the iPad, Microsoft seemed determined to get rid of its ActiveX controls for the sake of security and safety.
Here arise problems. Korean websites, heavily dependent on the ActiveX platform, has to go through huge changes to their web development environment and user environment. First of all, the job of developing alternatives to ActiveX controls is urgent. In particular, many point out that financial circles should take the lead by replacing their ActiveX controls with alternative technologies such as “Smart Sign” based on electronic signatures.
However, things are looking up: in March, 2011, Korea Communications Commission (KCC) set out to draw up a plan to improve Korea’s Internet user environment and develop alternatives to ActiveX controls. An official from KCC said, “Out of 100 major websites, we provided 20 websites with consulting services for replacing ActiveX controls and browser upgrade services, thereby cutting the rate of Internet Explorer 6 usage to a great extent. Above all, more financial institutions are opting for open banking services that enable one-line banking services on diverse browsers.” He continued, “The Korean government looks to adopt HTML 5, which is emerging as a global Internet standard, and to discontinue the use of ActiveX controls first on public institutions’ official websites. Yet, so many of public institutions’ websites need to be restructured on a large scale, thus the spread of HTML5 will be carried out gradually.”
Only one or two of every 50 websites use ActiveX controls in the developed world. Indiscriminate use of ActiveX controls discourages the development of new technologies and innovative services. This is why Korea has to ramp up its efforts to terminate its addition to ActiveX controls.