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Microsoft Warns of Internet Explorer Hack Potential

The Exchange

Internet Explorer users, get your updates or go somewhere else for your browsing needs.

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Microsoft (MSFT), the owner of one of world's most widely used Internet browsers, says it has to plug a hole that's left IE9 and earlier versions of the product vulnerable to hackers who could trick users into visiting malicious Web sites, allowing the remote execution of harmful code.

The company said Monday it had received "reports of only a small number of targeted attacks" and a fix was in the works. Microsoft issued instructions on what users could do for the time being to better protect their computers, the details of which can be found here.

While IE versions back to 6 are affected by the problem, IE10 isn't, Microsoft said.

According to software security firm Symantec (SYMC), the hack is hosted on the same servers used in what's called the Nitro attack, a 2011 campaign against a variety of chemical and defense companies. During Nitro, hackers used a known Trojan horse called Poison Ivy, which was aimed at stealing passwords in order to access protected data.

If you don't want to deal with IE at all on this, or otherwise, you can always go with another browser, such as Chrome or Firefox. Either way, stay on guard. Do the smart thing by protecting your machine with security software and resisting the urge to download files you weren't expecting.

Shares of Microsoft were little changed Tuesday, down 5 cents at $31.16.