Updated: 19/09/12 : 07:48:41Printable Version
People using Microsoft's Internet Explorer should use another browser until a security breach has been resolved, a government agency has warned.
The Federal Office For Information Security (FOIS), which oversees IT safety in Germany, said the browser's "weak point is already being used for targeted attacks".
While it did not specify the exact nature of the threat, it said the code to attack computers running on Windows XP or Windows 7 operating systems through the browser was freely available online.
The agency warned the security breach might continue to be exploited and could therefore spread rapidly.
It said users of Internet Explorer versions 7, 8 or 9 should switch to alternative browsers such as Firefox or Google Chrome until Microsoft updates its browser's security features.
FOIS president Michael Hange said on the agency's website: "One basic human need must not be ignored: the need for security.
"It takes the knowledge and action of every person involved to maintain security in society.
"This applies especially to IT security since the threats to security often go unnoticed at first glance and are often underestimated."
Yunsun Wee, the director of Microsoft Trustworthy Computing, said users should apply a security update.
She said: "We're aware of targeted attacks potentially affecting some versions of Internet Explorer and have released Security Advisory 2757760 to help protect our customers.
"We'll take further actions as appropriate. Internet Explorer 10 (IE 10) is not affected."
IE 10 is the forthcoming version of Internet Explorer that will make its debut on Windows 8.
She added: "While attacks appear very limited, we recommend customers deploy Microsoft's Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) 3.0, which provides effective protections without affecting the web browsing experience."