Microsoft has announced that all versions of Internet Explorer are susceptible to a dangerous exploit which plagues computers that simply open an infected web page. Some security analysts have advised Internet Explorer users to switch to Mozilla's Firefox or Apple's Safari until the exploit is fixed.
Microsoft detailed the flaw in a security update blog post last week. Since then, the problem has spread across the globe, hitting at least 2 million computers.
Unlike other computer exploits, this one does not require users to click on fishy links or download mysterious software: PC's can be targeted simply by visiting an infect site.
Internet Explorer is currently used by 69 percent of web surfers. The flaw hides inside the data binding function of the browser and causes IE to quit unexpectedly and reopen vulnerable to prying eyes.
So far most of the attacks have been geographically centred on China and have been used for the purposes of stealing computer game passwords. But the possibilities of nefarious action could include the massive theft of personal information such as administrative computer passwords and financial data.
Even though there is currently no patch for this problem, Microsoft has offered a variety of workarounds. Most involve disabling or crippling the 'oledb32.dll' file. Other methods include setting internet and local intranet security zones to 'high' and configuring Internet Explorer to prompt before running Active Scripting or to disabling Active Scripting.
Though it's always wise to keep your antivirus software updated, it may not protect you in this case, as most antivirus software does not monitor internet traffic. The easiest way to keep your computer safe is to stop using Internet Explorer. Even Microsoft offered that advice. And while other browsers aren't entirely devoid of bugs, they are a better alternative in this case.