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An ActiveX Heads Up

Friday, February 8th, 2008 by | Filed Under: Security Help
 
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An ActiveX Heads Up

Here’s a heads up to everyone out there who uses Internet Explorer, MySpace or Facebook. Listen up!

It seems there has been a major flaw discovered in six different ActiveX controls for Internet Explorer that could cause some major problems for your computer. The flaws are not from some little, no-name Web sites either. We are talking about MySpace.com and Facebook.com.

For those of you who aren’t quite sure what ActiveX controls are, they are the little yellow boxes that drop down on your computer screen, asking if you’d like to install something on IE. Here’s what one looks like:

The bar that runs across the top is the ActiveX control. Most of the time, ActiveX controls are there to help Internet Explorer do something. They are not harmful to your computer, they just simply make it so that IE can do something extra it does not normally do.

Unfortunately, in this case, some ActiveX controls have been compromised to cause harm to your system. The ActiveX controls at risk are the ones used by Facebook and MySpace users to upload photos.

Here is where the trouble comes in: If you use Facebook or MySpace, you already have these ActiveX controls installed on your system. Until this vulnerability was found, they have been used for something useful (like I mentioned above). But, now that a problem has been found within the controls, computers that have them installed are at risk. If you have the controls installed on your computer and you visit a Web site that has bad intentions, your system can easily be compromised. They can cause as little as a browser crash, but as much as data being stolen from your system.

As of right now, the makers of the ActiveX controls are working on a patch to fix this issue. Until a patch is completed, many security companies are urging users to disable the controls so that they cannot be used by any sites. Unfortunately, this means that MySpace and Facebook users will not be able to upload photos.

Luckily, a program has been made to allow easy management of these controls. They can be turned on and off with the simple check of a box. Here’s what you can do.

1.) Download the program to a location you will remember. You can do that right here.

2.) Locate the file you downloaded and open it.

3.) You will see a set of checkboxes, as well as, a status screen on whether the controls are installed on your system or not.

4.) To disable the use of the controls, simply place a checkmark in each of the boxes and click Set.

5.) If you want to re-enable the controls at any time, simply reopen the program and uncheck the boxes. Then click Set again.

That will secure your system until the patch is made available (hopefully within a couple of days). I will continue to keep you posted on this as well. Until next week, stay safe out there, my friends!

~ Gary

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