This weekend, the technology security firm FireEye revealed a flaw in Microsoft Internet Explorer which compromises the users entire system. Microsoft has announced they are rushing to fix the bug, though that doesn't help the 55% of internet users who use the browser to go online via their computer.
Security Flaw Details
The flaw exploits a memory re-allocation issue which allows for data corruption and bypasses Window's ASLR (address space layout randomization) and DEP (data execution prevention) protections. This basically allows malicious scripts to insert a virus into system and execute it, taking complete control of the computer. This flaw effects all version of IE from 6 to 11, with current reports of it being successfully utilized against IE 9, IE 10 and IE 11.
Windows XP Users
With the end of support for Windows XP, Microsoft has chosen to release any updates for IE only for the Vista, 7 and 8 versions of Windows. This prohibits about 25% of all desktop computers from using Internet Explorer. And Microsoft's solution of upgrading to Windows 7 or Windows 8 is not an option for many of these older (though still good) machines.
Solution: Switch Browsers
If you didn't already know it, Internet Explorer is notorious in tech circles for being full of security bugs as well as having inconsistent rendering of web designs. IE is only ever used for testing the cross-browser design of websites. If you regularly use IE, you should consider switching to a more robust browser. These alternative browsers are just as easy to use, and generally will make websites run faster while looking better.
If you do not switch browsers, DO NOT USE IE until the patch is released.
Firefox is the gold standard of web browsers. It is available on just about every operating system (Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, OS X, iOS, Android, Blackberry10, Linux, etc) and is FREE. There are numerous skins, plugins and extensions for Firefox, allowing you customize everything. It also utilizes an open-source model, which limits the number of these fundamental security flaws and gets such flaws patched extremely quickly.
Opera is a free web browser for personal use. It is developed by Opera Software ASA of Norway as a bridge between a commercial browser and a personal browser. Opera provides some of the best support for the web standards on compatibility and security.
Safari is Apple's base web browser which is included with OS X and iOS but is also available for Windows since XP. Safari has a clear Apple feel to its interface which is a little confusing for Windows users at first. Safari uses an open-source license, making it free for personal and commercial use.
Chrome is the Google alternative to Internet Explorer. I generally do not recommend Google products not associated with the Search Engine because of Google's tracking and lack of control, but Chrome is an improvement over IE. Chrome is generally considered one of the fastest web browsers and has good adherence to the web standards on compatibility and security.
If you are still using Internet Explorer, this is a great reason to switch. Once you make the change, you will be happy. For those concerned about making the transition, contact us and we can go through everything needed to make the change.
Security Release: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/security/2963983.aspx