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December 17, 2008

Internet Explorer Flawed, says Microsoft

TECHNOLOGY - Microsoft Corp. is taking the unusual step of issuing an emergency fix for a security hole in its Internet Explorer software that has exposed millions of users to having their computers taken over by hackers.

The "zero-day" vulnerability, which came to light last week, would allow criminals to take over victims' machines simply by steering them to infected Web sites; users don't have to download anything for their computers to get infected, which makes the flaw in Internet Explorer's programming code so dangerous. Internet Explorer is the world's most widely used internet browser, ahead of Firefox.

Microsoft said it plans to ship a security update, rated "critical" for the browser today. People with the Windows Update feature activated on their computers will get the patch automatically.

Thousands of websites already have been compromised by criminals looking to exploit the flaw. The load malicious code onto those sites that automatically infect a visitor's computer if they're using Internet Explorer.

Microsoft recommends in the meantime that users download and use Firefox, Opera or even older browsers like Netscape Navigator to avoid the security hole.

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