The German government has warned citizens not to use Internet Explorer after it was revealed that a flaw in the Microsoft browser proved to be the weak link in the recent security attack on Google.

Microsoft admitted that a security hole in the browser, which makes up around 62.3% of the worldwide web browser market, was exploited by those who initiated the attack on Google services last week but the software giant has rejected the warning from the German Federal Office for Information Security.

The company claimed that the risk to users was low and that the browsers’ increased security setting would prevent any serious risk, a claim that the German authorities have refuted however, claiming that even this would not make Internet Explorer fully safe. They have proposed that users find alternative browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari.

Thomas Baumgaertner, a spokesman for Microsoft in Germany, said that while they were aware of the warning, they did not agree with it, saying that the attacks on Google were by “highly motivated people with a very specific agenda”.

“These were not attacks against general users or consumers,” said Mr Baumgaertner.

“There is no threat to the general user, consequently we do not support this warning,” he added.

Microsoft says the security hole can be shut by setting the browser’s security zone to “high”, although this limits functionality and blocks many websites.

The company is also working on a fix for the bug and has not ruled out an “out of schedule” security update. The company usually issues updates on a monthly basis, with the next update due on February 9.

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