By Jim Finkle
Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:45pm EDT
(Reuters) - 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
The Internet Explorer bug,
disclosed over the weekend, is the first high-profile computer threat to
emerge since Microsoft stopped providing security updates for Windows
XP earlier this month. That means PCs running the 13-year-old operating
system will remain unprotected, even after Microsoft releases updates to
defend against it.
of Homeland Security's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team said in an
advisory released on Monday that the vulnerability in versions 6 to 11
of Internet Explorer could lead to "the complete compromise" of an
established UK National Computer Emergency Response Team issued similar
advice to British computer users, saying that in addition to considering
alternative browsers, they should make sure their antivirus software is
current and regularly updated.
6 to 11 of Internet Explorer dominate desktop browsing, accounting for
55 percent of global market share, according to research firm
assistant professor with Hungary's Laboratory of Cryptography and
Systems Security, said the best solution was to use another browser such
as Google Inc's Chrome or Mozilla's Firefox.
experts have long been warning Windows XP users to upgrade to Windows 7
or 8 before Microsoft stopped supporting it at the beginning of this
The threat that emerged over
the weekend could be the wakeup call that prompts the estimated 15 to
25 percent of PC users who still use XP to dump those systems.
should be moving off of it now. They should have done it months ago,"
said Jeff Williams, director of security strategy with Dell SecureWorks.
Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies, expects several hundred
million people running Windows XP to dump those machines for other
devices by the end of the year.
will be looking at Windows machines as well as Apple Inc's Macs and
iPads along with Google's Chrome laptops and Android tablets, he said.
everybody will necessarily go to Windows, but Microsoft has a good
chance at getting their business," he said. "It's got to be a good
stimulus for the year."
the vulnerability surfaced over the weekend. Cybersecurity software
maker FireEye Inc warned that a sophisticated group of hackers have been
exploiting the bug in a campaign dubbed "Operation Clandestine Fox."
(Reporting by Jim Finkle. Additional reporting by Paul Sandle in London.; Editing by Richard Valdmanis, Tom Brown and Cynthia Osterman)