recommended reading

Why the U.S. Government Is Extra Worried About the Huge Internet Explorer Bug

Huguette Roe/Shutterstock.com

Over the weekend, Microsoft announced a huge security flaw in its Internet Explorer Web browser (in versions IE6 through IE11). "An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user," Microsoft wrote in its advisory.

In response, the Homeland Security Department issued its own memo, advising computer users within the federal government to "consider employing an alternative Web browser," seeing that the vulnerability "could lead to the complete compromise of an affected system," which is not desirable.

A vulnerability like this is especially bad for the U.S. government, which tends to cling to older technology. That's not to say that Internet Explorer is an "old" technology; it's updated regularly. But it is losing market share, as National Journal's Stephanie Stamm demonstrated in the graphic posted below. The browser also causes headaches for developers, because it renders Web pages differently than other browsers do. It also has a history of security glitches. Generally speaking, it's thought to be the Hotmail of Web browsers.

On National Journal's website, for instance, visitors on government computers are more than twice as likely to be using Internet Explorer as our readership overall. Plus, 10 percent of government computers still use the decade-old Windows XP, and because that operating system has been discontinued, Microsoft will not release a patch to fix Internet Explorer on those computers.

It's a dangerous time to be an Internet user, especially in the wake of the Heartbleed bug. But it's even riskier to be an Internet user on a discontinued machine.

(Image via Huguette Roe/Shutterstock.com)

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.