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Internet Explorer Security Warning: Here's What to Do

Internet Explorer users beware: Homeland Security experts have noted a bug in the browser that can allow hackers to completely compromise an affected system.

The U.S. Computers Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), part of the Department of Homeland Security, advised Monday that Internet Explorer users "consider employing an alternative web browser."

What can you do to avoid Internet Explorer putting you at risk?

IE Bug May Allow Remote Access

The Internet Explorer (IE) bug affects IE versions 6 through 11, which are running on most PCs packaged with Windows sold in the last decade or so. According to US-CERT, a "use-after-free" vulnerability in these IE versions allows cyber attackers to remotely run programming code on affected machines.

US-CERT could find no "practical solution" to the IE vulnerability, and users of IE will simply have to wait until their software is patched and updated by Microsoft. However, more than a quarter of Windows users are still using Windows XP, which may not be receiving critical security updates.

Microsoft programmers were "rushing" over the weekend to fix the potentially dangerous vulnerability, but cyber-security company FireEye Inc. warned that hackers have already been exploiting the bug. FireEye is still investigating the matter, but believe that the attacks appear to be "broad-spectrum intel gathering," Reuters reports.

How Can IE Users Protect Themselves?

Homeland Security mentioned a couple ways to reduce the risk of cyberattack for current IE users. Here are some of our own:

  1. Stop using IE -- at least, until they patch the vulnerability use Firefox or Chrome.
  2. Download EMET. Microsoft offers an Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) which can help users prevent software vulnerabilities (like the one in IE) from being exploited. No word yet on how simple this is to use.
  3. Avoid suspicious emails and websites. You should already be practicing safe Internet and email browsing, but make sure to avoid clicking unknown or suspicious links.
  4. Install the IE Update. Whenever it becomes available, immediately install the official update to IE.

Although IE may not be a safe choice for browsing right now, this may be a chance for IE users to check out other browsers, such as Chrome and Firefox.

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