Days after reports of a dangerous security flaw discovered in Microsoft Windows’ popular default Internet Explorer browser, the governments of the U.S. and U.K. are warning users to stay off of the browser entirely until the problem is resolved.
The security vulnerability affects multiple versions of IE, including on Windows XP, for which Microsoft recently discontinued support. The flaw basically allows hackers to install malware on an unsuspecting users’ computer without permission, and use it to gain access and control of the system.
Governments stepped in to warn against the continued use of the browser after its severity became more apparent early this week.
Noted security firm FireEye discovered the security hole and found it based in a technique used to exploit Adobe Flash Player — the plug-in responsible for displaying and running many of the interactive features of websites. The exploit can be employed against IE versions 6 to 11.
For those unwilling or unable to switch to another browser, experts suggest users disable the Flash plug-in, which will reportedly close the security hole necessary to infect and invade a user’s computer.
Users with a deeper skills set and experience can download and employ the Microsoft Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, though the Department of Homeland Security insists the surest and safest way to protect yourself is to stay off the browser entirely until a patch has been issued.