Microsoft is scrambling to fix a major bug which allows hackers to exploit flaws in Internet Explorer 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11, responsible for 55% of the PC browser market. The company has also confirmed it will not issue a fix for web browsers running on Windows XP after it formally ended support for the 13 year old operating system on April 8, 2014.
Microsoft has released the following statement.
Microsoft has given limited information on the bug, but has admitted “an attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of an affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.”
A Temporary Fix
While Microsoft rushes to fix the bug, here are two suggested work arounds.
1. Use another web browser other than Internet Explorer (Chrome or Firefox are good alternatives)
2. Disable Adobe Flash in IE. “The attack will not work without Adobe Flash,” it said. “Disabling the Flash plugin within IE will prevent the exploit from functioning.”
No Hope For Windows XP Users
While Windows Vista, 7 and Windows 8 users should therefore be able to avoid attacks until Microsoft issues a fix, Windows XP users have no light on the horizon. Microsoft has confirmed that no fix will be rolled out for Windows XP because support has officially ended and there are no plans to make an exception. It states:
“An unsupported version of Windows will no longer receive software updates from Windows Update. These include security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software, which can steal your personal information.”
The company’s advice to Windows XP users has remained the same for some time: upgrade to Windows 7 or 8 or buy a new PC. It has also repeatedly sent a pop-up dialog box to reachable Windows XP machines an end of support notification.
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