LONDON: Microsoft has warned that the 900 million users of its Internet Explorer Web browser are at risk of having their computers hijacked and their personal information stolen by hackers.
The software giant has issued a ‘critical’ security alert over a newly-discovered flaw that affects all versions of the company’s Windows operating system, including Windows XP (SP3), Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 (R2), reports the Daily Mail.
However, Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari browsers are unaffected by the threat because, unlike Internet Explorer, they don’t support MHTML files, where the problem lies.
The loophole only seems to affect the way Internet Explorer handles some web pages.
Microsoft said that the bug is inside Windows, presumably because they don’t want users to migrate to other browsers.
The company has so far been unable to remove the bug itself and has issued a ‘fix it’ security patch to block any attempts to use it.
All Windows users, particularly those who use Internet Explorer, are being urged to download the patch as the company’s security team is working on a way to permanently fix the problem.
The company has described the flaw as a serious threat, although no hackers are thought to have yet exploited the vulnerability.
"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," said Microsoft spokeswoman Angela Gunn in a security advisory published online on Friday.
"Such a script might collect user information (e.g. email), spoof content displayed in the browser, or otherwise interfere with the user’s experience," she added.(ANI)