Dutch won't warn against using Internet Explorer

19th January 2010, Comments 0 comments

Microsoft has become the latest victim of an elaborate cyber-hacking plot originating in China.

Amsterdam--But while French and German web users have been told to avoid Internet Explorer, the Dutch government has no plans to issue a similar warning.

Hackers published a malicious code online last week, making it possible to remotely access people’s personal computers by installing software on them when they visit certain sites using Internet Explorer. Several US companies were targeted by the scam and Germany and France warned users they should not use Microsoft’s browser.

"Cyber war"
The move comes just a week after Google threatened to pull out of the Chinese market over alleged hacking. The situation could be described as “cyber war” according to Professor Bart Jacobs of the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands:

“They can basically take over the entire computer, they can install key-loggers so they can find your password and any kind of personal information you have on your computer. So, it’s a really serious problem not only for Microsoft but for the entire world. We are so dependent on these kinds of fundamental infrastructures.”

Alarm bells started ringing last week when Google threatened to pull out of the Chinese market completely after it emerged hackers had broken into activists’ email accounts. The company is the second largest player in the world’s fastest-growing economy and some analysts argued the decision was based on its inability to overtake the Chinese-run browser Baidu, rather than real concern about security.

Pointless warning
Microsoft has insisted its Internet Explorer browsers are safe, telling the BBC “the risk is minimal.” And the Dutch government says it won’t follow the example set by its neighbours. There’s no point warning computer users to swap to another browser because none of them are completely safe, according to Ella Broos from the Dutch internet security agency Govcert:

“We don’t see a lot of abuse of this vulnerability [in Internet Explorer] so we think the threat is not big enough to give such a warning… Mostly we give a warning and at the same time we offer advice about the solution, and how to fix this. At the moment there is no solution so when we warn computer users, we create more panic than is necessary.”

Radio Netherlands World

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