Indian government agencies and banking sector most vulnerable by IE flaw

A casual look at some of the most popular Indian government and banking websites will make it amply clear that Internet Explorer is their preferred web browser. This is thanks to the fact that IE is still one of the most used browsers despite stellar competition in the form of Firefox or Chrome.


Sadly though, a recent discovery about a flaw in IE could spell serious trouble for these sites, with grave implications. Microsoft has been forced to rush for a solution for the zero-day IE bug that has even got governments urging citizens not to use the browser. According to NetMarketShare, most Windows users still prefer using IE for browsing making their systems susceptible to malwares and hackers. What makes things worse is that a potential bug fix will not be available for Windows XP as Microsoft has ended all support for that OS.


In India, things are a little better than the world figures. According to StatCounter, just under 12 percent users opt for IE, while Chrome and Firefox have a much higher adoption. So practiced users might still avoid the bug, but first-time or inexperienced users could still suffer.

 Indian government agencies and banking sector most vulnerable by IE flaw

In India, IE is not as popular as Chrome (Image: StatCounter)


Government and banking websites that recommend IE as a compatible browser are especially in trouble. Microsoft says an attacker can “gain the same user rights as the current user” using the exploit. They could potentially install software, and edit data, if the current user has admin rights. They can even tinker with user rights for other users with the right account. Obviously, this will end up endangering confidential information or revealing financial data.


Another area of concern is the ATM. Almost all the ATMs in the world are still running on Windows XP. And here too the exploit can be used causing greater financial damage to organisations.


For those who want to continue using Internet Explorer, Microsoft is offering Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit 4.1 to safeguard the IE against malware attacks. This toolkit is for PCs running on Windows XP with Service Pack 3. They can also make IE more secure by setting the "Security" slider under Internet Options tab to High, though this might interfere with other general browsing.

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