Feeds

MS spins IE security disaster into Windows 7 upgrade opportunity

'Ditch XP, our browser is safe-ish, pigs can fly' etc.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Microsoft is doing its best to deflect from the software vendor’s ugly, fat security hole in Internet Explorer 6, by telling customers to not only upgrade their browser for the latest version of IE, but also to ditch Windows XP while they’re at it.

The much-loved operating system that refuses to die is vulnerable to attack, said Microsoft. Cue the company’s wonks declaring - yet again - that it’s time to move on to Windows Vista 7.

“As you can see, the client configuration currently at risk is Windows XP running IE6,” said Microsoft in a security bulletin late last week, that helpfully displayed a diagram with big red blocks on it, highlighting the risks of using IE 6 and XP.

“We recommend users of IE 6 on Windows XP upgrade to a new version of Internet Explorer and/or enable DEP. Users of other platforms are at reduced risk. We also recommend users of Windows XP upgrade to newer versions of Windows.”

That danger warning isn’t applicable to Vista or Windows 7 because, noted Microsoft, those OS versions ship with later iterations of the firm’s browser, which leads the field by a good margin over its competitors, despite the fact that Firefox, Safari and Chrome are doing rather a good job of closing that gap.

Code for a known weakness in IE 6 running on Windows XP has already been released onto the internet, making it pretty easy for a hacker to exploit the flaw. Microsoft confirmed the hole was used in the recent attacks against Google and 33 other companies, which are understood to have originated in China.

The response from some European governments, though sadly not Blighty, has been to swiftly advise Internet Explorer users to switch browsers, until the hole is patched by Microsoft.

Sadly, however, MS isn’t offering any timeline on when that might happen. And, overlooking a major PR gaffe, Redmond is instead asking punters to look the other way, by upgrading their operating systems to either Vista (loaded with IE 7) or Windows 7 (loaded with IE 8).

Worse still, it’s doing this even though the firm cannot offer a watertight guarantee that those later editions of Internet Explorer won’t also be exposed to the same security flaw. In fact, they are at risk from the same attack.

“The vulnerability is present in Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 7, and Internet Explorer 8. All versions may crash after opening the attack code. However, there are a number of ways to limit the attack to an IE crash and prevent attacker code execution,” said Microsoft.

Which is a bit like saying "foot, meet gun." ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.