NHS Trusts told to Upgrade from Internet Explorer 6

Over two weeks ago Microsoft announced that a critical flaw in IE6 had been the route by which Chinese hackers had managed to enter Google’s corporate systems. The company advised uses to upgrade from IE6 to Internet Explorer 7 which contains a number of security enhancements.

In an urgent technology bulletin to NHS Trusts the Department of Health said \”IE7 has been warranted to work correctly with NHS Spine applications such as CSA, and provides additional security features over IE6\”. The directive did not recommend upgrading to Internet Explorer 8, Microsoft’s most recent version of the popular web browser, presumably due to support issues with NHS applications.

Any exploitation of the IE6 vulnerability could allow for ‘complete compromise of the affected system, which could allow an attacker to download and install further malware / spyware on to the computer, add user accounts to the computer, steal sensitive data held locally and centrally. It is also possible that exploiting this vulnerability could allow for the compromised computer to be used as a staging point for further attacks against other computer systems including those outside the organisation.’

The National Health Service (NHS) is the largest employer in Europe and is one of the largest employers in the world with over 1.5 million active staff. Only the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the Wal-Mart supermarket chain and the Indian Railways directly employ more people than the NHS.

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