Last month, Microsoft revealed that it would no longer be providing security updates for Windows XP; now, the first major computer threat has emerged, resulting in the US, British and Australian governments advising individuals and businesses to avoid using Microsoft Internet Explorer until a security flaw has been fixed. This means that millions of people around the world may switch to competitor browsers, which would be a large blow to Microsoft.
The Internet Explorer bug was revealed over the weekend and could cause significant concern to those in the information security market who want to keep their data safe. The security flaw means that hackers could be allowed to gain access to computers; as the 13-year-old Windows XP system is no longer being updated, these computers will remain vulnerable even after the computer company has applied its fix. In the intermediate time, versions of Internet Explorer between 6 and 11 are open to attack and should not be used.
Microsoft has taken steps to protect the brand damage noted from the problem, releasing two temporary fixes; however, Stay Smart Online, the Australian government’s internet alert service, has said it far easier to utilise an alternative browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. This is a view shared by both the US and UK governments, which have made similar statements.
Initially revealing the information, a security advisory from Microsoft said: “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.” Meanwhile, an expert security firm analyst, Bogdan Botezatu, explained: “This is the first critical Internet Explorer exploit that will not be fixed for Windows XP users ever. This exploit will stay working forever – until [Windows XP] users move to a different operating system.” This means those who have an XP system need to adapt to using a new browser, as this will be the only way their system can remain safe.
Information security experts have been advising Windows XP users to update their systems for some time now, saying that vulnerabilities were extremely likely. Between 15% and 25% of computer users still use the Windows XP system and will need to take action to avoid using Internet Explorer. This either means switching to a new browser or upgrading their system to a newer OS, such as Windows 7 or 8.
Written by Montash.
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