Microsoft typically releases its updates on Tuesday evenings, but today they will be issuing a special patch specifically for Internet Explorer. The patch will be released at 1:00 PM EST. Windows XP users can get the patch downloaded and installed by going to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/. Windows Vista users can get the patch by either by going to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/ or by clicking “Windows Update” on their Start menu.
What’s the patch for?
The patch fixes a flaw which allows thieves to remotely take over a computer and steal passwords and — potentially — financial information. The scam works by secretly planting malicious code on hacked Web sites. The code causes Explorer to crash briefly, then allows thieves to take over the infected computer. Microsoft said one in every 500 computers that use Internet Explorer — up to 2 million computers worldwide — may be infected.
Initially the problem was though to be unique to the current IE7 browser, but it has since been discovered to exist in versions as old as IE5, and even in the upcoming IE8 browser.
Is this a virus?
No, this isn’t a virus. This is an “exploit”. There is a flaw in the programming of a specific area of the Internet Explorer’s code. It is connected with a HTML web site programming tag called “span”. The flawed code mishandles the span code, and there are programmers out there exploiting this flaw. The patch fixes the flawed code.
Also, Symantec, the makers of Norton Internet Security and Norton AntiVirus released antivirus signature “Bloodhound.Exploit.219” and “IPS signature 23241 – HTTP MSIE Malformed XML BO” to protect users against this exploit. These updates were released on Decmber 10, 2008. Yet another reason to keep your anti-virus software and subscription up-to-date.
How Do I Update My AntiVirus?
Be aware, if you renew your antivirus subscriptions every year, then your computer is likely to be protected already. Modern antivirus programs update automatically at least 4 times per day so long as your computer is connected to the Internet.
My AntiVirus Is Fine, Do I Need The Patch?
I strongly encourage you to download the patch. Multiple layers of protection work better that single layers.