Microsoft Internet Explorer in the News / Security Tips for Your Home PC

On Saturday, April 26th, Microsoft released a security advisory regarding the Internet Explorer (IE) web browser. A vulnerability was discovered that could allow an attacker to execute code remotely on a PC when using Internet Explorer. Microsoft does not have a patch for this vulnerability at this time. This is making the news since it affects all versions of Internet Explorer and since this is the first vulnerability with Windows XP that will not be fixed.

In order to fall victim to this vulnerability, you would need to browse to a website that contains the malicious code. There are some technical workarounds that can be applied to make IE safe to use, but the easiest way to avoid this vulnerability is to use a different web browser such as Google’s Chrome, or Mozilla’s Firefox until a patch is released from Microsoft. Here at the bank we have several layers of security to help stop malicious web pages. We have also made a change that blocks this specific vulnerability with IE.

Here are some general tips to help protect your home PC:

  1. Make sure your PC is set to receive automatic Windows updates. This can be found in the Control Panel. Search for “Windows Update” and click the link “Turn automatic updating on or off”.
    windows update

    Within these settings make sure you have the option to receive Microsoft Update enabled. This will update other Microsoft products such as Office.

    update settings

  2. Third party updates – PC’s use many third party applications such as java and flash. These programs also have regular security patches that must be kept up to date to avoid malicious content from running on your PC. By default java and flash will notify you when an update is available. Just be sure to install these.
  3. Antivirus – Make sure you are running antivirus software on your PC. Microsoft Security Essentials is a very good free solution. Along with running antivirus software, view the software and make sure it’s receiving updates. Scheduled scanning at least weekly is also recommended.

Other thoughts – a lot of malware targets vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer. IE is installed by default with all Windows operating systems, so it’s focused on more heavily by hackers. By using a different web browser such as Chrome or Firefox, you decrease your risk of some of these vulnerabilities. Be careful when clicking links, especially ones that are emailed to you. In order for a hacker to exploit this current vulnerability, they need you to visit a website that has the malicious code. They could send you an email that looks to be from a reliable source with a link and ask you to click on the link.

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