Internet Explorer Has A Huge Security Flaw, So It's A Good Thing No One Uses It
Surprise! Internet Explorer is still a terrible computer browser. Microsoft's latest problem is a massive Internet Explorer security flaw that could leave your computer in thrall to an outside attacker. The problem, which Microsoft admitted to over the weekend, could allow a hacker to install any software they choose onto a computer running the browser, generally by convincing an Internet Explorer user to click on a bad link. The problem affects every single version of the browser, though Re/Code notes that it's mostly being used to attack those with the latest versions of the software.
Internet Explorer is a crappy browser, but about 25 percent of people are still using some version of it, according to stats from NetMarketShare. Who are these people who haven't yet made the leap to Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome? Desk-bound employees at bureaucratic companies (read: the government), for starters, but also people running the software on older computers in other parts of the world.
FireEye, which monitors online security breaches, reported the big bug in a blog post on Friday. The site reports that a group of hackers are specifically targeting the affected browsers to gain control over IE users' computers, an effort FireEye has named "Operation Clandestine Fox," because if your job was to monitor online security you'd probably want to get creative and have a little fun every once in a while, too. But the attacks are serious: FireEye's spokesman Vitor De Souza told Reuters the hackers were targeting companies that deal with defense and finance.
It's a campaign of targeted attacks seemingly against U.S.-based firms, currently tied to defense and financial sectors. It's unclear what the motives of this attack group are, at this point. It appears to be broad-spectrum intel gathering.
Microsoft is quickly working to fix the problem, but users still running Windows XP (stop running Windows XP) are out of luck, because even Microsoft's given up on that operating system.