Internet Explorer flaw allows hackers to gain control of your computer

Avatar By Aaron Sims | 7 years ago

Earlier this month, Microsoft cut off security updates and overall support for its XP operating system, opening the software up to hackers who would seek to exploit its vulnerabilities. Now, it appears that XP is not the only Microsoft system that is putting users at risk for hacker attacks and invasions.

Indeed, according to a recent report from the BBC, Microsoft has discovered a major security flaw in its Internet Explorer web browser. Over the weekend, the Seattle software giant warned users that certain incarnations of the Internet Explorer program – versions 6 through 11, to be exact – have a notable coding bug that allows hackers to take complete control of a user’s computer system. Microsoft says that only a few schemes to exploit the flaw have been exposed thus far, but that there could be more in the pipeline.

So how does it work? Essentially, hackers looking to exploit the Internet Explorer flaw would create a fake, “specially crafted website” and then try to get Internet Explorer users to visit that site. In order for the scheme to work, a user would have to willingly direct his or her browser to the suspicious page in question. Hackers would therefore send links via email, social media, or IM to try to encourage visits to the site. Once a user clicked one of those links, the hackers would be able to take over rights as a system user. In other words, if the user in question was only utilizing a guest account, hackers wouldn’t be able to do much with it. If the user was a system administrator, however, hackers would be able to usurp admin rights, take control of the entire system, and wreak havoc.

Since the Internet Explorer versions in question account for roughly half of the world’s internet browsers, Microsoft is working quickly to patch the flaw, which will hopefully mitigate most of the potential consequences of the bug. However, for users of Windows XP, the vulnerability could be a more serious problem, since Microsoft is no longer releasing updates for the system. XP users may just be able to download a patched version of Internet Explorer on their own, but the update will not be automatic, as it will for other Microsoft systems.