The U.S. and British governments are warning computer users to use substitutes to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser until the company is able to fix a security flaw in which hackers can use to launch attacks.
The Internet Explorer bug that was revealed to the general public this past weekend is proving to be the very first high profile computer risk to materialize since Microsoft stopped giving any security updates for Windows XP previously in this month. That means any PCs which happen to be using the operating system, which is 13-years-old, will be unprotected, even after Microsoft sends out updates in order to fight against it.
In the United States, The Department of Homeland Security’s Computer Emergency Readiness Team stated in a warning that they sent out on Monday that the vulnerability in Internet Explorer versions 6 to 11 may lead to the total compromise of an affected computer system.
The newly created United Kingdom National Computer Emergency Response Team sent out a similar advisory to British computer users. They told them that besides considering using alternative browsers, they should also make sure their antivirus software was up to date and current.
Versions 6 to 11 of IE totally lead in desktop browsing, accounting for nearly 56 percent of the worldwide market share, stated the research company NetMarketShare.
People are being told that the best solution at this time is to just use some other browser such as Chrome from Google Inc. or Firefox from Mozilla. Security experts agree this is the best thing to do. They also have been telling Windows XP users to go ahead and upgrade to Windows 7 or 8 before Microsoft quit giving it any support at the start of April this year.
The threat that showed up this weekend might just be the wakeup call that causes the projected 15 to 25 percent of PC users who are still using XP to get rid of that system and upgrade finally.
The IE bug, which was revealed to the public last weekend, is the very first severe computer risk to come on the scene since Microsoft quit providing any security updates for Windows XP earlier in April of this year. This means PCs that are using XP will continue to be unprotected, even after Microsoft comes up with and releases a patch and updates to fight against it. So until Microsoft is able to fix this giant flaw, Internet Explorer versions 6 to 11 will continue to be vulnerable across all of their operating systems.
When the news of the vulnerability showed up to the general public last weekend, the security cyberware maker FireEye advised that the group behind the bug was a very superior team of hackers which had been taking advantage of the bug in an operation which was labelled as “Operation Clandestine Fox”. This threat just may be what it takes to get the believed 15 to 25 percent of PC users who are still using XP to get rid of that system and finally upgrade to something more modern.
Only time will tell.
By Kimberly Ruble