France, Germany warn against Internet Explorer

France and Germany have warned web users against using all versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer to protect security.

The German government first warned users on Friday after malicious code implicated in attacks on Google was published online, reports the BBC.

A security hole led to attacks against Google and other sites by hackers in China who gained access into the email accounts of human rights activists.

Although Microsoft admitted that its browser was the weak link in the recent attacks it rejected the warning as too strong saying that the security threat was low.

"These were not attacks against general users or consumers," said Thomas Baumgaertner, a Microsoft spokesman in Germany.

Mr Baumgaertner stressed that the attacks on Google were carried out by "highly motivated people with a very specific agenda".

Microsoft recommends users setting the browser's security zone to "high", although this does have the disadvantage of limiting functionality and blocking some websites.

Graham Cluley of antivirus security firm Sophos said that because details of the attack were now available online, hackers would soon be able to change the code to target other versions of the browser, says the BBC.

"The way to exploit this flaw has now appeared on the internet, so it is quite possible that everyone is now going to have a go," said Cluley.

However, Cluley points out that all web browsers have security issues so switching browsers may simply expose you to a different type of risk.

Microsoft has is trying and mitigate the damage by releasing an emergency patch, reports the Telegraph.

A Microsoft spokesperson says a timeframe for when the patch will be ready cannot be committed to.

- NZ HERALD STAFF

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