Feeds

MS spins IE security disaster into Windows 7 upgrade opportunity

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

Boost IT visibility and business value

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." ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
Intel's Raspberry Pi rival Galileo can now run Windows
Behold the Internet of Things. Wintel Things
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
Linux kernel devs made to finger their dongles before contributing code
Two-factor auth enabled for Kernel.org repositories
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.