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US CERT (the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team), is advising people to ditch Internet Explorer and use a different browser after the latest security vulnerability in the software was exposed.

A statement on the CERT site said: "There are a number of significant vulnerabilities in technologies relating to the IE domain/zone security model, the DHTML object model, MIME type determination, and ActiveX. It is possible to reduce exposure to these vulnerabilities by using a different web browser, especially when browsing untrusted sites." CERT otherwise recommends users to set security settings to high and disable JavaScript

Malicious code, dubbed variously as "Scob" or "Download.Ject", originally posted last week on a Russian website, could be downloaded secretly onto websites using Microsoft's Internet Information Server 5.0. The code could then be used to log keystrokes made by visitors to the site - so long as they used Internet Explorer as their browser. Information, including passwords, was then to be emailed to the criminals behind the atack.

Microsoft said that it was unaware of widespread consumer impact and noted that the Russian site had been taken offline. It said some enterprise users of Windows 2000 Server, specifically users running IIS 5.0, were being targeted by "Download.Ject". According to MS, this is not a trojan or worm but "a targeted manual attack by individuals or entities towards a specific server". It said users should use a firewall, ensure they have the latest software updates and use anti-virus software.

Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman, called on users to switch on auto-update so that patches would spread faster. Speaking to Reuters in Australia at the weekend, he vowed to "guarantee that the average time to fix will come down. The thing we have to do is not only get these patches done very quickly...we also have to convince people to turn on auto-update."®

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