France, Germany officials warn against using Internet Explorer

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Officials from France and Germany have warned people against using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, citing security holes, and encouraged users to find an alternate browser to surf the Internet.

File photo of Internet Explorer 6

The government agency Certa, which oversees cyber attacks and security, warned against using all versions of Internet Explorer. Officials from Germany had warned last Friday against the browser when malicious code was published on the Internet.

“Pending a patch from the publisher, Certa recommends using an alternative browser,” Certa said in a statement.

Graham Cluley, from the security firm Sophos, said that the weakness had only been exploited in IE6, but he noted that “Microsoft themselves admit there is a vulnerability, even in IE8.” He noted that, since more information into the malicious code is now available on the internet, hackers could alter the code to make it affect other versions of the browser.

The head of Microsoft’s security and privacy department, however, commented that “the risk is minimal. There are very few of them out there,” adding that in order for a computer to be infected by a virus, it would have to be running IE6 and be on a compromised website. “If you look at other browsers, it’s likely they will have other vulnerabilities,” he said to the BBC. “We feel strongly that IE8 is most secure browser on the market.”

Microsoft encouraged users to upgrade to IE8, which they described as the “most secure browser on the market”.

The firm is working on a patch to fix the problem, however, a spokesman said there wasn’t any specific timeframe for its release.

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