If you use Internet Explorer then you may want to be extra careful when surfing the web, as a hole in the browsers security has been exploited. This security hole allows an attacker to gain access to your system simply by visiting a malicious website.
This exploit has gone unnoticed for the last few releases of Internet Explorer and has primarily been used to infect machines with “Poison Ivy”, a back-door Trojan. Many computers have already been infected with the Trojan, so it’s important that you keep up on your definition updates and scans for your preferred anti-malware, anti-virus software.
This only goes to show that even if you think you’re fully protected from malicious software, you’re still at risk if you don’t use your best judgement when visiting unknown websites. Stick to sites you know have a good track record. You can use tools like Site Advisor to check url’s before you visit them, this site is ran by McAfee and does not require you to download anything, you simply type in the url you wish to check and search. It will let you know if the site has been flagged for malicious activity and it will also show you a list of files and other sites the website links to and whether or not they could pose a risk to your computer. However, some sites that are new and haven’t been scanned by McAfee will show up as untested, these sites should probably be avoided until you know for sure that they are safe to visit.
No matter what operating system you use, you should always have you computer check for updates automatically. You can even manually check from time to time and make sure the latest updates are installed. Microsoft releases updates constantly and the majority of what your downloading is to protect you from malicious code. This doesn’t just apply to OS software either, make sure your anti-virus software is also up-to-date with the latest definitions.
Microsoft is aware of this vulnerability and has listed it as critical, the company has recently posted a security bulletin on the matter here. An official fix is slated to be released on Friday and should allow IE users to browse securely again.