Joined: 11 March 2006
LONDON: World's most popular web browser Internet Explorer has some security flaw due to which people using it may have their computers hijacked, says its developer Microsoft Corporation.
The company says that computers installed with Windows Internet Explorer can be hacked for stealing personal information about their users, when they visit websites corrupted by cyber criminals.
Media reports also suggest that about 10,000 websites have been compromised since the previous week.
Microsoft has revealed in its Malware Protection blog that attacks on computers using Internet Explorer 7 have been detected.
The company has also admitted that other versions of Internet Explorer are "potentially vulnerable".
"We are actively investigating the vulnerability that these attacks attempt to exploit," the Telegraph quoted the firm as saying in a security statement.
"We will continue to monitor the threat environment and update this advisory if this situation changes," the statement added.
The company has revealed in its Malware Protection blog that about 0.2 per cent of Internet Explorer users had already visited one of the websites, which have been designed to exploit the flaw, by last Saturday.
There has been a sharp increase in attacks since the first exploitation of the flaw last week, says the newspaper report.
The websites corrupted by the hackers are mostly Chinese, and have been programmed to steal passwords for computer games which can be sold for money on the black market.
It is said that hackers may also exploit this flaw to steal people's bank details, private data and identities.
"That's a big fear right now," said Paul Ferguson of Trend Micro security researcher, warning of "mayhem" if fraudsters succeed.
Microsoft has published a list of technical changes that their customers may use to avoid attacks until it updates the software and eliminates the vulnerability.
The company has also recommended the use of firewalls as well as anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
Some web security experts think that it would be better to use an alternative browser like Firefox, Safari or Opera, which are all available for free downloading.
However, many feel that switching browsers may be an over-reaction.
"It's certainly a fix and gets around this problem, but Firefox, Google Chrome and other browsers all have their own security issues," said Graham Cluley, a virus expert at internet security firm Sophos.
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