If, for some reason, you still use Internet Explorer to browse the web, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security advises that you switch to a different browser for the time being. A major security flaw was exposed in Microsoft Internet Explorer versions 6 through 11 that could allow hackers to take over your computer.
The security flaw was discovered over the weekend and reportedly “has the potential to give hackers the same user rights as the current user.” According to Microsoft, “The vulnerability exists in the way that Internet Explorer accesses an object in memory that has been deleted or has not been properly allocated. The vulnerability may corrupt memory in a way that could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user within Internet Explorer.”
Not only does the bug potentially allow users to control your computer, it could also give them access to your financial information. “They could start to maybe drop a keylogger on your system and watch when you go to do online banking, get access to your bank accounts, credit card info; that’s generally what these folks are looking for,” said Michael Gregg, COO of Superior Solutions, a Houston cybersecurity firm.
What Can You Do?
The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), part of the Department of Homeland Security, released a statement today advising Internet Explorer users to switch to a different browser. “US-CERT recommends that users and administrators enable Microsoft EMET where possible and consider employing an alternative web browser until an official update is available,” the statement reads.
If you’ve never used another browser, the two most popular Internet browsers are Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. If you’re hesitant about installing a new browser, PC World suggests using Internet Explorer in a more secure mode by adjusting your security settings under Internet options.
A Fix is Coming, But Windows XP Users Are Screwed
Microsoft is working to issue a fix, unless you own a Windows XP–in which case, you’re out of luck. According to Forbes, approximately 25 percent of people still use Windows XP, and Microsoft ended tech support for XP earlier this month.
Microsoft issued the following warning to XP users less than three weeks ago: “If you continue to use Windows XP after support ends, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.” No surprise there, but the timing of this bug has some people wondering whether Microsoft ignored the problem to force people into upgrading from XP.
Serious Internet Explorer flaw puts XP users especially at risk – this is how you force people to upgrade from #xp! http://t.co/eKE8KtR2km
— Tom Taylor (@tom_taylor) April 28, 2014
Microsoft security flaw in Internet Explorer… leaving XP exposed… And forced to upgrade or else! Am I a cynic? http://t.co/YMxXoLhf1b
— Neill Emmett (@NeillEmmett) April 28, 2014
Huge security threat aside, the people who haven’t used Internet Explorer as their main browser since the early part of the millennium aren’t hesitating to pile on:
Apparently there is some bug in Internet Explorer that makes it unsafe. I thought that was a permanent feature.
— Keith W. Boone (@motorcycle_guy) April 28, 2014
Internet Explorer: The best browser for downloading another browser.
— Leah Dennell (@LeahDennell) April 28, 2014
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