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Security f law opens Windows to data thieves [Evening Standard (London, England)]
[February 03, 2011]

Security f law opens Windows to data thieves [Evening Standard (London, England)]

(Evening Standard (London, England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) MICROSOFT has issued a "critical" security alert which could affect about 900 million computer users.

The software giant warned of a flaw in its Windows operating system that could be exploited by hackers to steal private information or hijack computers.

The breach is so severe that it potentially affects every user of the popular web browser Internet Explorer.

A software patch has been released to defend against attacks while Microsoft works to develop a long-term solution.

The problem is with Windows but affects the way Internet Explorer handles some web pages and documents.

The flaw means users could be fooled into downloading malicious files by clicking on a bogus link.

Microsoft spokeswoman Angela Gunn said: "An attacker could construct an HTML link designed to trigger a malicious script and somehow convince the targeted user to click it.

"When the user clicked that link, the malicious script would run on the user's computer for the rest of the current Internet Explorer session.

"Such a script might collect user information (e.g. email), spoof content displayed in the browser, or otherwise interfere with the user's experience." The company believes the glitch poses a serious threat, although it said it had seen no evidence that it had already been exploited by hackers.

All Windows users -- particularly those who use Internet Explorer -- are being urged to download the fix released by Microsoft while the company's security team develop a way to plug the hole permanently.

Browsers from Microsoft's competitors such as Mozilla's Firefox, Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari are all unaffected by the threat because, unlike Internet Explorer, they do not support MHTML files.

(c) 2011 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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