Update: Internet Explorer fixes come faster than expected- and for Windows XP too, despite MS recently dropping XP as a supported OS. Read the article.
Following the HeartBleed Bug from earlier this month… another digital security issue:
In case you use IE (Microsoft’s Internet Explorer), you should probably stop. A variety of users, for a long long time, have recommended ditching IE ¹ ² ³. In 2013, we were seeing articles ¹ ² claiming the Microsoft’s days of abundant security issues with IE are over. However, with a recently announced security issue, US Gov Homeland Security’s CERT, the UK Gov’s CERT, and AUS Gov’s Stay Smart Online all recommend ditching IE, at least for now. What version of IE has this newly found vulnerability?
Most of them… versions 6-11; and PC users with Windows XP or older will not receive any support on fixing this vulnerability, as Microsoft stopped supporting XP somewhat recently. This may lead the question, does the security issues with an OS (operating system) from over ten years ago really matter? Over 25% of computers are believed to be running XP still ¹ ². And how bad is this vulnerability? CNN Money explains it in pretty simple terms.
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.
What should you do? First make sure you know and are aware of what browser you are using, and what version you have. That may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t what browser they use, what version, or even how to check. Granted, they probably aren’t reading this… but still.
Know what your options are; sure, pretty much everyone has heard of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, and if you use computers much you are probably aware of Safari and Opera, but there are tons and tons of options out there, including some whose main goal is focusing on security, such as Comodo Dragon or WhiteHat Aviator. It’s easy to find comparison articles ¹ ² ³, but its hard to tell if there is really a best choice.
However, maybe it’s better that way. With more diversified browsing applications, there are more varied security strategies, and as such, its hard for any one piece of malicious code to jeopardize our interactions. Just make sure you are using a frequently updated modern web browser, and, at least for now, that it isn’t Internet Explorer.
If you find stuff like this interesting, consider taking Digital Forensics (Digital/Cyber Security) maybe during your junior or senior year.