You might not use it much, but the Microsoft Internet Explorer still has 58 per cent market share across the globe as per data available on netmarketshare.com. While the number of people using Internet Explorer could be more in India where the browser gets a lot of patronage from the government as well as the banking sector, gs.statcounter.com, which uses page views to study where traffic is coming from, says the browser is number 3 in India, well below Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox at just over 10 per cent in March 2014. Incidentally, gs.statcounter.com put IE’s global market share at 21.4 per cent, less than half of Chrome.
This could mean that Indians use the browser now only when they have no other option available. However, that is not always good news, for if they are forced to use Internet Explorer, it is invariably to complete a banking transaction or to make a payment to the government. It helps all Windows devices come preinstalled with the browser.
Ironically, Internet Explorer is preferred by government websites and banks as it is considered safer than the rest. The new vulnerability, Microsoft says, lets attackers “gain the same user rights as the current user”. This means an attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights. That is pretty much as bad as it gets.
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Thankfully, Microsoft says a major chunk of users would not be affected as by default Internet Explorer for most of the newer Windows Servers run in a restricted mode that is known as Enhanced Security Configuration that negates the vulnerability. But it would still be a good idea to increase the security rating on the Internet Explorer settings if your company or organization prevents you from using any other browser.
This is also the first big vulnerability being exposed after the end of support for Windows XP, and it is only natural that those on the old operating system could be more vulnerable than others. Weeks before the end of support on April 8, Microsoft had warned that about 16 per cent users were still stuck on Windows XP in India.
Calling it an alarming situation, Microsoft India Managing Director Karan Bajwa had then told indianexpress.com that 35 per cent of banking and financial services institutions and a similar number of state institutions were still on Windows XP. These two sectors are also the most susceptible to any attack on Internet Explorer now.