When the German government recommends its citizens stop using an internet browser, you know that browser has some serious flaws. Such was the case last week when researchers discovered a security flaw in all versions of Internet Explorer except IE 10.
The security flaw allowed hackers to gain deep-level access to a system through an exploit. After access had been gained, hackers had control over every part of the system. From turning on the webcam to watching users access their online banking information, this exploit had the potential to ruin a lot of lives.
Apparently, the exploit was most often used to install malware onto users’ computers. Using the exploit, it would take only seconds for hackers to install dangerous spyware and viruses onto a user’s computer.
Because the exploit was so dangerous, Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security, which looks after the online security of its citizens, told people to stop using Internet Explorer immediately. We issued a similar warning to readers of our blog.
Fortunately, Microsoft attacked the exploit as soon as it was discovered. On September 23, Microsoft’s Security Response Center stated that Internet Explorer’s most recent patch fixes the most recent exploit as well as several other critical errors that had not been revealed to the public.
The important thing to note about the Internet Explorer update was that it was released “out-of-band”, which means that it did not follow the typical Microsoft release cycle for patches. Microsoft usually releases critical patches on something called “Patch Tuesday”, which occurs on one Tuesday every month. In rare cases like this, Microsoft was forced to pester its users outside of the regularly scheduled release period.
In any case, you can download the latest security update, MS12-063 here, if your computer hasn’t already done so automatically. Until you’ve downloaded and installed that security patch, avoid using Internet Explorer altogether. Your digital security depends on it.