Browsing can be dangerous. We’re here today to warn you about the most recent uncovering of a major security threat for internet users (read: you).
Browsing the internet causes untold damage to millions of users’ computers daily. Daily? No. By the minute. We’re not trying to sensationalize here. It’s gotten to a point of no matter how much “NSFW” content you avoid, or “Lose 5 lbs of belly fat in 5 minutes” links you don’t click (don’t click it!), when you browse unsafely, you may as well be shoving the master key in the lock to your most personal data and begging the world to come on in.
The Problem: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (henceforth IE) browser has been revealed to have a major security flaw in its code.
How does it work? Hackers can get past security measures in Windows operating systems by taking advantage of a corrupted Adobe Flash file.
What is it exactly? “Operation Clandestine Fox” as named by hackers and discovered by FireEye Research Labs, leaves computers with versions 6-11 of IE vulnerable until further notice, and most threateningly, leaves Windows XP users (28% of all world users) without a fix.
What are my alternatives? Chrome and Firefox are still safe. But if you are set on using IE…you have a security breach.
Security is available, but we don’t recommend it. Symantec’s Norton Antivirus tool has created it’s “Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit” to guard against the attack. Also, FireEye recommends disabling Adobe’s Flash plugin.
“I’ve used IE. It comes standard on most computers. How is it possible this has gone unfixed for so long?” Simply put, you’d have to ask Microsoft. It’s so serious that the Department of Homeland Security formally recommended that Americans not use Microsoft IE (Courtesy of Fool.com). So try to keep your personal data secure by switching browsers as soon as possible.
What is your most personal data? It’s what credit card companies love, retail chains design “point cards” for, and it’s the real gift in every “something for nothing” trade you engage in.
Your personal data seems small, almost nothing. It manifests in sharing a bit of intel about you. Where you shop. How often you shop there. What you enjoy doing. What you read, buy, like, subscribe, every bit of consumer knowledge – that’s the gold mine in every “free gift” you sign up for. The real problem here is that hackers cut to the chase – since all this information is readily available in just your browser history, the value of unlocking your individual door to data skyrockets, and the ability to protect it is harder and harder. Take, for example, the “Heartbleed” scare. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo…All of these major browsers and mail platforms were exposed. Internet Explorer claimed to never have been open to that threat – but the reality is that IE is one of the least secure browsers.
It’s so hacker-friendly that the DHS doesn’t want you to use it. We suggest finding an alternative, and as always, keep your internet security up-to-date. With data so free and (seemingly) benign, you never know who’s watching.