There's a major Internet bug called Poodle that has security experts, website operators and browser developers scrambling. It's a serious problem in an older encryption called SSL 3.0.
At its most basic, Poodle lets hackers snoop on encrypted information, which includes things like online passwords, financial information, secure emails and more. You can see how that would be a problem.
Poodle came to light a few weeks ago and is a "zero-day" exploit. That means it's an unnoticed problem built into a program and anyone could have stumbled on it. It's not known how long hackers might have been taking advantage of it.
Many websites have turned off SSL 3.0 at this point, but the major browsers haven't. Until today, that included every version of Internet Explorer.
Fortunately, Microsoft has released a one-click fix that should do the trick. I've also got a workaround for other browsers.
To get Microsoft's fix, visit this page. Scroll down a bit, then click the "Microsoft Fix It" icon that looks like this:
That will disable SSL 3.0 in Internet Explorer. Note that this could make some smaller websites not work properly until they update their systems. However, if they were using SSL 3.0 as their main encryption, then they weren't very secure anyway.
There's also a link on the fix page to re-enable SSL 3.0 in case you really need it, but most users will be fine without it.
There are fixes available for Firefox and Chrome available, too, but you're going to have to do a little bit of legwork. First, go to this site to find out if your browser is vulnerable to the Poodle bug. The site will tell you if your browser is vulnerable and then give you step-by-step instructions on how to turn SSL 3.0 off on your browser.
Google and Mozilla should also be disabling SSL 3.0 in the next browser updates in a few months. Want to make sure you have the most recent and safest version of your browser? Click here for a site that will tell you in seconds.