We all received a big surprise today when Microsoft issued an out of cycle patch to fix a vulnerability in all versions of Internet Explorer. Most of us have been totally avoiding using Internet Explorer and have downloaded third party browsers such as Firefox and Maxthon as a workaround. The update will be delivered via automatic update so if you have automatics updates turned off, be sure to turn them back on so you can receive the critical patch.
As a huge surprise and a bonus, Microsoft rolled out the patch to Windows XP as well as all other platforms from Vista on up. As you recall, Microsoft stopped supporting XP last month. So if you are an XP user and you shut off updates because you thought you would not receive any, be sure you turn them back on to get patched. There are still at least 300 million computers still running XP as their main operating system. This number has been falling but not at the rate that Microsoft would like.
Most of the attacks that have been recorded against Internet Explorer have been aimed at government agencies. Most attacks seem to come from areas around China.Even with the released patch, we highly recommend you keep using your third party browser. In a previous article we recommended Maxthon but any browser other then Internet Explorer makes good sense.
The latest surprise patch, which included XP, actually shows that Microsoft is genuinely concerned about your security. They did not have to include XP at all. This gives those using XP a little bit more breathing room until you make the upgrade to Windows 7 or 8.
I have already patched all our computers, which consists of a mix from XP on up to Windows 7. All the updates went in without a hitch and I experienced no problems what so ever. If you still own XP it is important to remember that all exploits will be patched. I was quite frankly very surprised that Microsoft patched this one. If the number of XP machines remains high, it is possible that extremely severe exploits, such as the one just patched, might still be considered for XP on patch Tuesday. There is no guarantee, however.
Posted By Ross Deprey and Joe Z