Microsoft issued an emergency security update for Internet Explorer after hackers were able to exploit a new flaw in several versions of the browser.
"A remote code execution vulnerability exists in the way that the scripting engine handles objects in memory in Internet Explorer," the company revealed in a statement." The vulnerability could corrupt memory in such a way that an attacker could execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user. An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user. If the current user is logged on with administrative user rights, an attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could take control of an affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights."
Microsoft revealed that the flaw was discovered by Google's Threat Analysis Team, and it affects older Internet Explorer browser versions — including Windows 7 and 10, and Windows Server 2012; 2016 and 2019 versions of Explorer 11; Explorer 10 for Windows Server 2012; and Explorer 9 for Windows Server 2008.
Unfortunately, the security issue come right before what is expected to be the biggest shopping day of the year: the Saturday before Christmas.
"If I'm a bad guy, I would likely target a group of people at a company with a phishing campaign that, for instance, offers them 50 percent off with an online shopping platform," said Jason Escaravage, SVP of consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, according to CNBC. "Once they link to the [fraudulent] site, they can have their current session hijacked."
To protect personal data from criminals, Escaravage suggested that users update their Internet Explorer browsers, as well as any other applications. "Make sure you are always operating on the latest version of anything that is touching the internet," he said.