Here’s why you should stop using Internet Explorer right now

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NEW YORK, NY — If you’re using Internet Explorer and click on the wrong link, a hacker could hijack your computer.

Microsoft is racing to address a weakness in its popular Web browser that security experts at FireEye revealed over the weekend. The researchers discovered that hackers have exploited the bug and created a new type of attack.

This is how it works: Hackers set up a website that installs malware when you visit it. If you’re duped into visiting the website while using the Internet Explorer program, malware seeps into your computer and gives a stranger total control. You might not even notice.

“I’d say someone taking control of your computer is just the beginning of the worst case scenario,” said Adrian Sanabria, a security expert with 451research.com. “Because then they steal your info, get access to your email, etc.”

That’s where the real danger lies. Anyone in control of your computer can spy on everything you do. If it’s a PC at work, hackers can reach into anything an employee has access to.

It’s worse for those using Windows XP, because Microsoft no longer supports that operating system with security patches. To them, Microsoft says: Go upgrade to Windows 7 or 8.1.

Because this attack relies on a few of Internet Explorer’s extra features, there’s a relatively easy fix: Just disable them. FireEye advises disabling the Adobe Flash plugin. While Microsoft works on patching the bug, its engineers suggest running your browser in “Enhanced Protect Mode.” But computer experts say that will likely ruin your online experience.

That’s why the easiest solution is to just ditch Internet Explorer and use another browser, said Marius Buterchi with antivirus software maker Bitdefender. This attack doesn’t affect other Web browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla FireFox or Apple Safari.

This type of attack is particularly nasty, because it affects every version of the Web browser from IE6 through IE11. That’s more than half of the browsers in use right now, according to Web analytics site NetMarketShare.

It’s not the first time hackers use add-ons like Flash to assault computers. But this hack, first publicly disclosed by FireEye in a blog post Saturday, was described as a “zero-day.” That means that the attack is a unique, never-before-seen technique — a particularly dangerous vulnerability, since it hasn’t yet been patched.

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7 comments

  • ByeByeToTheRite

    In a seasoned tech with over 20 years experience, and I say this article is more propaganda – right-wing propaganda, maybe? No, just industry propaganda.

    So who’s idea is it to dump IE? Google’s? Of COURSE they’ve been wanting everyone to dump IE and use their inferior junk for 2 years now! Their owners can just taste the profits of exploitation!

    The reason disabling basic things like Flash player add-on (so junk websites like this Fox 2 News site can dump ad upon ad upon you – just last week Fox was trying to run a Flash add-on – THAT’S the problem, folks!) and using Protected Mode is because that’s what Microsoft recommends you always do, anyway.

    And avoiding malware sites is as easy as not being a dimwit and clicking phony ads and far-out claims.

    So, here’s what you do: Run IE in Protected Mode at all times, disable Flash add-on, and avoid clicking dumb-looking things and tricks and voila! Problem solved – no, never encountered! Oh, and run a decent anti-virus program, too. Not the phony ones.

    If this “ruins your surfing experience” according to these nerds, then you’re surfing places where you may as well EXPECT malware, because they are NOT industry standard, “best practices” websites. Stay clear of those, too.

    Finally, MOST of this problem falls on sites like this Fox site where they bombard you with ad after ad, most requiring Flash to run, with numerous pop-ups (disable those, too – you won’t miss a thing!) If Corporate America would quit trying to shove ads in our face every chance they get a half second of our attention, this problem would dry up, too.

    • Steve Quinn

      Right-wing conspiracy? You’re a special kind of idiot aren’t you? This was an announcement from the US Government who, last I looked, were controlled and run by extreme left-wingers.

  • ByeByeToTheRite

    In a seasoned tech with over 20 years experience, and I say this article is more propaganda – right-wing propaganda, maybe? No, just industry propaganda.

    So who’s idea is it to dump IE? Google’s? Of COURSE they’ve been wanting everyone to dump IE and use their inferior junk for 2 years now! Their owners can just taste the profits of exploitation!

    The reason disabling basic things like Flash player add-on (so junk websites like this Fox 2 News site can dump ad upon ad upon you – just last week Fox was trying to run a Flash add-on – THAT’S the problem, folks!) and using Protected Mode is because that’s what Microsoft recommends you always do, anyway.

    And avoiding malware sites is as easy as not being a dimwit and clicking phony ads and far-out claims.

    So, here’s what you do: Run IE in Protected Mode at all times, disable Flash add-on, and avoid clicking suspicious-looking things and tricks and voila! Problem solved – no, never encountered! Oh, and run a decent anti-virus program, too. Not the phony ones.

    If this “ruins your surfing experience” according to these nerds, then you’re surfing places where you may as well EXPECT malware, because they are NOT industry standard, “best practices” websites. Stay clear of those, too.

    Finally, MOST of this problem falls on sites like this Fox site where they bombard you with ad after ad, most requiring Flash to run, with numerous pop-ups (disable those, too – you won’t miss a thing!) If Corporate America would quit trying to shove ads in our face every chance they get a half second of our attention, this problem would dry up, too.

    P.S. The only time you SHOULD dump IE is if you’re still using IE Version 8 on XP (the latest version that works on XP). That won’t work on most sites, anymore – at least not well. Chrome is an acceptable alternative for XP users.

    Otherwise, I wouldn’t suggest Chrome for anything – just don’t support as many important websites like banking and eCommerce as IE, period.

  • chejkalcfh

    More to the point, while ‘seasoned’ IS at least partly right, he also misses several better ideas. among them to use firefox, or something born from firefox. there are a number of far safer browsers than IE.
    another is simply to use one of many ( easy to use ) Linux varities out there, some don’t even need to stay on the computer hard drive.

    and ALWAYS be extra careful about what and where your surf..
    NOthing said in the original article is new, just –perhaps– more important than before

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