If you are one of the 10% of people that are still using Internet Explorer, the Department of Homeland Security suggests you change to a different browser immediately. An alert has been issued warning computer users of the latest bug found, this time in all versions of Internet Explorer, which allows hackers to take over your computer. Until a fix is found and implemented you may try to use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox browsers, which encompass roughly 2/3 of all Internet users.
Which IE Users Does This Bug Affect?
All of them. Security analysts from every direction have pointed out that this bug only affects Internet Explorer users, but that it does affect all of them. It is also reported that when a fix is finally issued, it will be for only Windows 7 and 8, and not for the Windows XP operating system. While the XP operating system is still very popular, this bug will force the thousands of companies that have refused to upgrade, to do so almost immediately. This is sure to cause further scrutiny of Microsoft as their users continue to express concerns and grow frustrated over their abandonment of the popular XP operating system.
What is the IE Bug?
Affecting Internet Explorer versions 6 through 11, or virtually everyone on IE, this latest bug has allowed hackers to gain access to confidential information, not just on personal computers. This is when it is assumed the Department of Homeland Security got involved. A well-organized group of hackers were able to access a broad spectrum of defense and financial industry systems in a campaign dubbed “Operation Clandestine Fox” or “OCF” which often has it’s own connotation. In a press release the warning is issued by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, or US-CERT, stating that an infected system could lead to a “complete compromise.”
As the term “complete compromise” tends to mean different things between organizations we feel it necessary to describe this term. A technical support team would generally describe this as a complete takeover of system operations, otherwise known to hackers as the “going hog-wild” phenomenon. Not a low-level nuisance, system vulnerability or just some phishing scheme, but rather a cyber war strategic attack. And the attach may be happening right now.
Particularly Vulnerable Windows XP Users
Since the Windows XP system doesn’t work with IE browser versions newer than IE6, XP users are particularly vulnerable. Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP Operating Systems, which has made many security analysts reach the conclusion that a fix will likely not be made to assist these users, essentially forcing them to upgrade. But don’t expect any direct numbers released regarding how many people or businesses have been affected by this bug, or how many systems have been compromised.
What Does the IE Bug Do Exactly?
While entire systems have been compromised, to system takeovers have been reported yet. So far it seems as though hackers have only been stealing data. None the less, the vulnerability is still very real. At any time these hackers could take control of your entire system and wipe data, add data, or even intentionally crash your devices running on an infected system. What does that really mean? This is not a warning to be taken lightly.
While it may not have the same movie-like quality as the Heartbleed Bug, this warning, issued by the Department of Homeland Security and syndicated by the major reporters such as USA Today, Huffington Post, and CNN is a very big deal.
What do you think about the IE bug? Have you changed your browser or found your system hacked? We would love to hear from you.
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