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UK and US Governments Warn: ‘Don’t Use Internet Explorer’ (Updated)

Internet Explorer 11 (Image: Wikipedia)

Internet Explorer 11 (Image: Wikipedia)

‘Don’t use Internet Explorer’ — that’s the warning being given by the US and UK governments this week after a severe security flaw affecting the browser was detected. 

Both countries are advising citizens who are running Microsoft Windows to switch to an alternative web browser, such as Opera, Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, until the vulnerability has been fixed.

Internet Explorer 6 through 11 — released on Windows 7 and 8 last year — are all confirmed to be affected.

For XP Users It Gets Worse

News of the vulnerability can’t have come at a worse time for those still running Windows XP.

With Microsoft officially ending support for it in April this year, even when a fix for this issue is released the update won’t be made available to the estimated 125 million hold-outs still running the aged OS.

As such the advice from the US and UK computer security agencies is even more stark: don’t use the browser at all.

XP fans aren’t left entirely vulnerable. Both Mozilla, who make Firefox, and Google have pledged to continue providing updates to their browsers on the 13 year old OS until 2015.

The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, a section of the Department of Homeland Security, say that the vulnerability potentially allows “the complete compromise” of affected systems. Security experts say that hackers are already exploiting the loophole, which allows attackers to run code on a system when a specifically created webpage is visited.

Update: May 1, 2014

Microsoft has since issued a bug fix for this issue including, surprisingly, to Windows XP users. For more information see this article on TechCrunch.

Microsoft Patch Internet Explorer Security Issue

  • Ex Post Facto

    Well that leaves Windows RT and Windows Phone users in a pickle.

    • whizzer0

      AFAIK it doesn’t affect mobile, although this still doesn’t affect my decision not to use those OSes due to the browser.

    • No, it doesn’t. Won’t affect them at all. Also won’t affect Windows users who are running a safe environment and doing things the right way. It’s a browser with a zero day exploit. It hits people hardest who know the least. That said, I think Chrome is a better bet on a traditional Windows PC.

  • Michael Mistretta

    I believe all tech savvy people have been warning others to not use internet explorer for at least a decade now. =P

    • ForSquirel

      I believe all tech savvy people have been warning others to not use windows for at least a decade now.

      fixed it for ya

      • Michael Mistretta

        Sadly at work, it’s still a Windows world.

      • michaelfillier

        Windows gets too much flak. Internet explorer is a pretty awful browser though. Mac hardware is too expensive in my opinion and I need to use Adobe Creative Suite. Windows hardware is affordable and runs all the programs I need.

        For everything else there’s Chrome OS.

        • InAndOutLand

          Ugh, almost of all Adobe’s software started on OS X.
          Unless you mean that there’s no Adobe CS/CC on Linux, which is true.

        • GNU/Linux (eg: Mint? Ubuntu?) can run on the same hardware as Windows or OS X, so hardware affordabilty is really no excuse.

      • Ali J’

        You forgot the =P

  • Eric L

    Would be nice to have a reference link. Sharing an link doesn’t come off as impartial!

    • Not sure I understand: the Reuters report is linked at the bottom, and a direct link to the CERT (US) report is in the opening paragraph.

      • The point is that your headline states that both governments have issued warnings regarding IE. Neither the US nor HM Government have issued any such warning.

        • sonicyoof

          This is literally the first paragraph of the article linked as the source: “The U.S. and UK governments on Monday advised computer users to consider using alternatives to Microsoft Corp’s Internet Explorer browser until the company fixes a security flaw that hackers used to launch attacks.”

          • Sergi Aguirre

            AND the source’s title as well.

        • michaelstrelan

          Vulnerability Note VU#222929 was issued by CERT, which is sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security. Can’t find anything relation to the UK government.

  • Smallwheels

    Three days ago a friends XP IE browser refused to connect to the internet. She didn’t have any other browsers. I put a Live USB (trial version) of a GNU/Linux OS in it to see if the hardware was still functioning. It was. She noticed how fast it was using the different OS. Once I loaded Firefox and Chrome browsers and set them up her machine worked well. She is keeping XP due to several programs that aren’t available on 7. She has a Windoz 7 laptop so she isn’t doing most of her stuff on the dinosaur machine. If she would not use the XP machine for the internet it should work for a very long time.

  • thomastheawesome

    But who really uses IE anyway?

  • DanChorley

    It’s very easy to dismiss this by saying “well you shouldn’t be using IE” or “well, who uses IE these days anyway”.

    The fact remains that a lot of people aren’t tech savvy enough to understand the differences between IE and Chrome/Firefox, and understand why they should be inconvenienced in making the browser change.

  • eiduy

    IE is only for Download Firefox and Google Chrome

    • And Firefox and Chrome and firefox and chrome…………..

    • Jop

      and Opera

    • Anass Eljondy

      I keep a setup file on usb pendrive. I hate even see that icon . what about clic it it feels like you think? IEPhobia

    • Why would you even use IE for that? Doesn’t windows 8 have a sort of package manager/app store/whatever?

  • Michael Huff

    Well, if the not tech savvy” people would switch to Linux there wouldn’t be much of a problem. I’m sorry. I know Windows has its fans, but seriously. It’s the nail that sticks out the farthest. It’s going to get hit first. Especially if they’re using IE. That’ll just make the nail that much longer.

  • Joseph Dickson

    Anyone using internet explorer deserves this. Microsoft has always done a poor job developing and maintaining it, which is sad because it’s arguably the most used software they’ve developed.

  • there are pretty safe classified sites such as which does not get affected.

  • Hello

    This is the second time this has happened (I think) I won’t go looking for it but it was in the mid-2000s

  • Really now… who is so ***** to use it???

    • My dad, my mum, my sister, my brother, at least one of my friends…all the people that either love Microsoft and refuse to consider anything else or 100% hate change.

      • c_smith

        you think that’s bad? I know a person who still uses, get this, Windows freakin’ Vista. just because he thinks Linux is eternally broken and doesn’t want to shell out the money for an upgrade for Windows 8

      • When people with no knowledge in a certain field blindly refuse to accept advise from people who *are* knowledgeable they get what they deserve.

  • Ken-Ree Choong

    Personally, I don’t like Internet Explorer. On Windows Vista and On 7, I used Chrome… On windows 8.1 I use Chrome … On my Mum’s WIndows Phone she uses UC Browser… I think that Internet Explorer is only good for Laptops with Touchscreen on Windows 8.1 if they r using touchscreen mode otherwise…

    • I have touchscreen laptop and I also don’t like IE.
      so, IE is not good at all..

      • Ken-Ree Choong

        I mean IE is much more touch friendly than other browser because all the buttons are relatively big. With the use of the mouse and for mostly everything, I use Chrome but if im only using touch screen [I rarely do this] I use IE as the buttons on screen are big enough to touch properly.

        • Nope, Google also have Metro (touchscreen) version of Chrome (known as Google Search on WinStore) which is touch friendly as well. So, I prefer to use Chrome even on touchscreen mode instead of IE and for me IE is nothing.

          • Ken-Ree Choong

            however, google search isnt actually chrome as there are not the same web apps n stuff. it looks different. Google Search isnt chrome but another much more simple browser for touch optimised devices.

          • yes! you’re right.

  • Diego Deleon

    I haven;t used that in several years. In school I tell my students NOT to use it

  • eb

    I’ve used Internet Explorer for a few times, and it’s sloooow. So, after people saying that chrome is faster than Internet Explorer, I switched to it. I’m glad I did that switch. Heck, I’m using Chrome right now on a Linuxfied Chromebook.