TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – If you use Internet Explorer pay close attention.
Download a new browser – that’s the message from the U.S Department of Homeland Security. A flaw in the system could leave users vulnerable, according to a recent alert announced by Microsoft.
Clicking the Internet Explorer icon is something millions do everyday but now, opening the world wide web through the browser may be all it takes for hackers to hijack your computer.
“This exploit allows the attacker to gain access to information on the computer itself,” said Josh Zuerner, President and CEO of Joink, an Internet Serivce Provider (ISP).
The latest flaw works by tricking users into visiting a malicious website that quietly installs malware, allowing hackers to take control of the system.
“When they say a critical vulnerability they are saying it’s a very high likelihood that information on your computer or what you are doing on your computer is vulnerable to hackers,” said Zuerner.
From bank account passwords to your email, anything stored on your computer could be at risk.
“It’s entirely possible that personal information has been lifted by hackers through this vulnerability and we just don’t know about it yet,” said Zuerner.
Switching to another browser such as Firefox or Chrome may be more effective in keeping your information secure.
“What happens in closed commercial software development, like a Microsoft web browser is that code is all kept confidential and considered intellectual property of Microsoft,” Zuerner explained. “What happens in open source project like Firefox is that code gets peer reviewed by open source developers all over the world.”
In a technology driven society, Zuerner states being proactive is the best defense.
“Change your passwords regularly so when a big vulnerability announcement like this comes out go ahead and change your banking passwords. You should be doing that anyways, because you never know when a big vulnerability has existed and just hasn’t been announced.”
The flaw has now been identified in all versions of Internet Explorer.
The company has yet to announce whether it will release an out of band patch or wait until the next Patch Tuesday, scheduled for May 13, to deliver a fix.