Germany and France are warning people against using Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser because of a flaw that allows software hackers to run malicious code on Windows PCs.
The Wall Street Journal's website says both German and French officials have advised Internet Explorer users to use alternative browsers until a fix for the security hole is made.
The comments come after recent news that search engine Google was attacked by hackers in China, resulting in the theft of intellectual property.
Reuters reports that security firm McAfee Inc had said the recent cyber-attacks exploited a previously unknown flaw in the Internet Explorer browser.
However, Microsoft has warned users against switching browsers, saying that all software has vulnerabilities and switching may only create a "false sense of security".
Instead, it recommends that users upgrade to the latest version of its browser, Internet Explorer 8. It says malicious code that can take advantage of the security hole is associated with Internet Explorer 6.
Those continuing to use Internet Explorer 6 software should adjust the security settings in the browser to "high", Microsoft says, so that they are warned before running potentially harmful programming code on websites.
Internet organistation Internet New Zealand is advising Kiwis to keep their software up to date and apply software patches where possible.