hidden computer scriptSebastian Kahnert/DPA/Press Association Images

Microsoft was on the back foot last week, after an IT security adviser in Luxembourg identified a weakness in Internet Explorer, which let hackers infect computers with viruses. The experts suggested that users ought to consider using an alternative internet browser until the bug was fixed.

Unsurprisingly Microsoft has rushed out a patch to protect users. So are you safe now?


The bug

The weakness was identified after the adviser uploaded a file from servers that had been used by a hacking gang. His computer had up-to-date software and protection, but a Poison Ivy virus still made it through. He discovered that a weakness in Explorer was to blame, and publicised it on his blog.

The experts warned that this discovery was particularly worrying because it not only identified a weakness, but also that the hackers were poised to exploit it. Poison Ivy can be used to monitor your computer, or take control of it in order to use it as part of a coordinated attack.


Microsoft admitted at the time that there had been an "extremely limited number of attacks".

Fixes

It immediately released a 'workaround'. However, the complexity of using it was off-putting for some, who preferred to switch browsers. Earlier this week, it issued a temporary fix that was far easier to use. The 'Fix It' tool required just one click.

In a blog post, Yunsun Wee, Director of Trustworthy Computing, said: "This is an easy, one-click solution that will help protect your computer right away. It will not affect your ability to browse the web, and it does not require a reboot of your computer."

Full fix

Today, it will release a full update for Internet Explorer - a proper patch. This is due out at 6pm UK time. If your computer automatically updates software it will prompt you to install it anyway, and you don't have to do anything. If not, you will need to visit your usual distribution channel - such as Windows Update - and download it.


Wee said: "We recommend that you install this update as soon as it is available... This will not only reinforce the issue that the Fix It addressed, but cover other issues as well."

Internet Explorer users are therefore being reassured that once the patch is installed, their browser software will be safe to use again.

The question for Microsoft is whether people will install it, and come flocking back to Internet Explorer, or whether they will have discovered that they quite like the alternatives.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments?



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