Security isn’t the kind of thing you should play fast and loose with, and the same goes for security online. In a day and age where we manage almost all of our lives on the Internet, having a computer, phone or tablet that’s potentially open to mischievous entities is far from ideal, but that’s the position users of Internet Explorers find themselves in today.
Discovered by security firm FireEye and revealed to Microsoft as a result, this new potentially huge security flaw allows access to a user’s files – with editing privileges – and even allows the installation of applications just by having the user of the machine simply access a nefarious website. That means, in essence, anyone clicking the wrong link in Internet Explorer could be handing control of their computer over to someone else. Not good. Not good at all.
Of course, Microsoft intends to get security fixes out for all of its currently supported operating systems within a couple of weeks, but there’s the rub. With Microsoft ending support for Windows XP on April 8th, users of the admittedly aging operating system are now effectively left out in the cold, with no security update in the offing for their susceptible software.
There are one or two things you can do to protect yourselves while you’re waiting for Microsoft to get an update out, assuming you’re not running with Windows XP of course. Using a browser other than Internet Explorer will nullify the problem, and Microsoft has offered some tips on plugging the holes with chewing gum and sticky tape for now, including turning on Enhanced Protected Mode. Hopefully all this is just a stop-gap though, with Microsoft already beavering away on a fix.
This all shows just how big a deal Microsoft’s killing of Windows XP really is. Just weeks after cutting the operating system off, we’re already facing a security problem that leaves users wide open to an exploit that researchers already believe is being used in the wild. If it wasn’t already clear to everyone, if you’re still powered by XP, now really is the time to make the jump to something a little more recent.
We hear MS DOS is pretty good these days.