Microsoft Releases Patch For Internet Explorer Bug, Includes Windows XP

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

UPDATE:  Microsoft will deliver the patch for all versions of Internet Explorer on Thursday (including Windows RT). Windows XP, which Microsoft discontinued support for on April 8, will get a patch, too. If you have automatic updates turned on, you won’t need to take any action to get the security patch.

Original Post Follows:

(CNN) — If you’re using Internet Explorer and click on the wrong link, a hacker could hijack your computer.

Microsoft is racing to address a weakness in its popular Web browser that security experts at FireEye revealed over the weekend. The researchers discovered that hackers have exploited the bug and created a new type of attack.

This is how it works: Hackers set up a website that installs malware when you visit it. If you’re duped into visiting the website while using the Internet Explorer program, malware seeps into your computer and gives a stranger total control. You might not even notice.

“I’d say someone taking control of your computer is just the beginning of the worst case scenario,” said Adrian Sanabria, a security expert with “Because then they steal your info, get access to your email, etc.”

That’s where the real danger lies. Anyone in control of your computer can spy on everything you do. If it’s a PC at work, hackers can reach into anything an employee has access to.

It’s worse for those using Windows XP, because Microsoft no longer supports that operating system with security patches. To them, Microsoft says: Go upgrade to Windows 7 or 8.1.

Because this attack relies on a few of Internet Explorer’s extra features, there’s a relatively easy fix: Just disable them. FireEye advises disabling the Adobe Flash plugin. While Microsoft works on patching the bug, its engineers suggest running your browser in “Enhanced Protect Mode.” But computer experts say that will likely ruin your online experience.

That’s why the easiest solution is to just ditch Internet Explorer and use another browser, said Marius Buterchi with antivirus software maker Bitdefender. This attack doesn’t affect other Web browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla FireFox or Apple Safari.

This type of attack is particularly nasty, because it affects every version of the Web browser from IE6 through IE11. That’s more than half of the browsers in use right now, according to Web analytics site NetMarketShare.

It’s not the first time hackers use add-ons like Flash to assault computers. But this hack, first publicly disclosed by FireEye in a blog post Saturday, was described as a “zero-day.” That means that the attack is a unique, never-before-seen technique — a particularly dangerous vulnerability, since it hasn’t yet been patched.


  • someguy

    Hey Rob V, as bad as I would like to feel for anyone that has “overextended themselves” Windows XP was launched in 2001.In 2009 Windows 7 was launched. The retirement of XP was announced two years ago. If someone overextended themselves to the point they couldn’t save up for a $300 pc replacement since 2009 then there are bigger fish to fry then having online banking compromised.

  • Rob V

    So, Microsoft, a multibillion dollar company, sold me a product, enticed me to use it for everything, including my banking and now has decided it doesn’t want to support it anymore, leaving everyone open to financial attacks. Does this sum up the situation? I understand that they have a new system out there, I use it, but what about the folks that overextended themselves to buy their last system and can not afford a new one? What about the people that TRUSTED MICROSOFT? How do they get away with abandoning thier customers?

    • DE

      It’s not like they cannot afford to do the right thing one would think, altho I guess consistently and persistently trying to up the ante on technology 24/7 sucks up alot of money!

      • Rob V

        JR; True, but this is the Major system, not just software. If you want to buy a computer in the US, Microsoft provides Windows, which is the basis for most of our software. I also have a Unix system, Ubuntu, which is open source, but if you want to work in Industry in this country, you will be using Windows.

  • Rob

    That’s why I’ve been using Firefox for years and when I repair or redo a computer for someone I recommend using it..

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