Microsoft patches Internet Explorer security flaw
Published 03/05/2014 | 02:30
Microsoft has fixed a security flaw that put hundreds of thousands of Irish web users at risk.
The bug, which affected Internet Explorer users, allowed hackers to steal data and take over victims' PCs.
The company has not revealed how many computers might be affected, saying that it was a "very small number of attacks".
"If you are like most people, you have automatic updates turned on and you'll get this new update without having to do anything," said Adrienne Hall, general manager of Microsoft's trustworthy computing department.
"If you haven't turned on automatic updates yet, you should do so now."
Ms Hall said that users should click the 'Check For Updates" button on the Windows Update portion of a Windows PC's 'Control Panel' to effect the process.
The software giant also said that it was applying the software fix for users of the Windows XP computer operating system as a one-time gesture of goodwill.
Microsoft ceased offering security support for Windows XP on April 8, a move which had implications for almost one in 10 Irish PC users and a quarter worldwide.
But the company said that it would make an exception in this instance.
"Even though Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft, and is past the time we normally provide security updates, we've decided to provide an update for all versions of Windows XP," said Ms Hall.
"We made this exception based on the proximity to the end of support for Windows XP."
However, Microsoft would not be repeating the gesture, she said.
"The reality is that the threats we face today from a security standpoint have really outpaced the ability to protect those customers using an operating system that dates back over a decade," she said.
"Just because this update is out now, this doesn't mean you should stop thinking about getting off Windows XP."
IT security experts say that computer users should set up access to more than one web browser in case of similar security alerts, with Google Chrome and Firefox singled out as free alternative services.