This week a security flaw was found in all versions of Internet Explorer. The most current versions (IE 9 – 11) are those most likely targeted by hackers. When a user goes to a compromised website containing a Flash file that utilizes the flaw, the hacker can gain control of the users computer. The security flaw gives an attacker full user rights to the computer – allowing them to do anything and access any information on the computer.
Microsoft has not (as of April 29) released a patch or discussed publicly an update to repair this flaw. Security specialists are suggesting that users consider using another browser such as Firefox or Chrome. Also, make certain that your antivirus program is current and updated regularly. If you have Adobe Flash enabled on your computer, it is suggested that you disable it.
If you are running Windows XP, you will be especially vulnerable. Since Windows XP is past its end of life (as of April 8, 2014 – see article in Feb 2014 Bytes and Bits) it will not be receiving any Windows updates to repair this security flaw or others that may be discovered in the future. Any Windows XP computer on the Internet could be compromised. These machines could cause virus attacks on other computers and devices on your network or be used to send spam.
On May 1, Microsoft announced that a patch for this major security issue will be released through the automatic updates system. This will include a fix for millions of Windows XP computers, even though Microsoft ended official support for that operating system in April.