Microsoft tells IE users to switch to safe browsers

Users of Microsoft's Internet Explorer have been warned of a flaw that could let hackers gain access to their computers and steal personal data, and told them to swap to a rival browser, The Guardian reports.

The report explains, "The flaw in IE allows criminals to gain control of computers that have visited a website infected with malicious code designed to exploit it. While restricting web surfing to trusted sites should reduce the risk of infection, the malicious code can be injected into any website. Users do not have to click or download anything to become infected, merely visiting an infected website is sufficient."

As seven out of ten of the world's computers use IE, the situation is potentially very serious, but so far it seems hackers have only exploited it to steal computer game code from other gamers.

The flaw was discovered last week when hackers started attacking users of IE 7. The flaw, however, has also been found in earlier versions of Microsoft's browser, IE 5 and IE 6.

Microsoft is working on a patch, but in the meantime users have been told to update their security settings or switch to unaffected browsers such as Firefox or Opera.