Microsoft has announced that it will be releasing a security patch for a specific vulnerability in its antiquated web browser, Internet Explorer, that allowed Chinese hackers to access Gmail accounts of some Chinese human rights activists.
The company’s swift action to facilitate a security patch for the IE vulnerability is due to the fact that the cyber attack has received attention all over the world.
Also questions on the safety of IE web browsers are being raised as the French and German government has advised its citizens against using Microsoft’s web browser (ed: but not the UK Government).
The warning issued by the two European countries has resulted in a significant drop in the European web browser market share of Internet Explorer as Mozilla Firefox has became the market leader in Germany and Austria, garnering a 40 percent market share in Europe.
George Stathakopoulos, the General Manager of Microsoft's trustworthy computing security group, said in a statement that “Given the significant level of attention this issue has generated, confusion about what customers can do to protect themselves and the escalating threat environment, Microsoft will release a security update out-of-band for this vulnerability.”
He also said that the company had warned IE 6’s users to upgrade to IE 7 or IE 8 as the vulnerability only affected version 6 of the Internet Explorer.
As we suggested yesterday, Microsoft didn't really have the choice but to release this out of cycle patch for Internet Explorer. We strongly urge our readers to migrate from the old IE6 to any recent browser, whatever the brand. That said, many companies are reluctant to move from IE6 as it is the case for XP.