Most of us have probably heard about the Internet Explorer exploit that was discovered recently. It is a big deal, because it is a hole that currently exists in all versions of Internet Explorer from 6 to 11. Microsoft is working to create a patch, but at the time of this article, it has not been patched.
What does the risk mean to you? According to security experts, this exploit will allow hackers to take over your system as a result of this hole. This sounds scary and is generating a great deal of press. It only becomes an issue if Microsoft can’t fix it soon, and if people ignore best practices.
What steps should you take to keep your system safe?
1. The first thing you can do is make sure your antivirus is up-to-date and all Microsoft patches are regularly loaded. Many people ignore these steps and are at far greater risk to hacking and viruses.
2. The second is to follow best practice for security. This hole in your system is only exploited, if you follow a link to a specially constructed site that the hacker uses to gain access to your system. If you do not follow any unsolicited, unverified links, you are not at risk. If you only go to known websites through your browser, and not email, you stay safe. This may change if the exploit remains unpatched by Microsoft, and the hackers find ways to embed links on legitimate sites, but it is VERY likely Microsoft will have a fix soon.
If you want to take additional measures, you can take these further steps.
3. You may want to use an alternate browser like Chrome or Firefox. These browsers have had their security issues too, so they are not perfect, but they are an alternative for the time being.
4. There is a security work-around for IE, identified by several security organizations, including Symantec. You may need some technical know-how to apply it, but here it is. http://bit.ly/1mWntPO
5. Don’t browse the Internet! Just kidding, I’m not that crazy!
This exploit is getting massive amounts of press, and rightfully so, because it is a significant security problem. Even Homeland Security has weighed in on this saying an alternative browser may be advisable for those on Windows XP. Watch out for the misinformation, many are misquoting the valid sources. And, if you have Windows XP, you have bigger problems. You don’t need to worry about looking at an alternative browser, you should instead check into an alternative PC.