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Microsoft warns of major browser bug; no fix for Windows XP

By Salvador Rodriguez

Los Angeles Times

LAST UPDATED: 04:25 p.m. HST, Apr 28, 2014

Windows XP users are getting their first taste of life without security updates after the discovery of a major flaw within the Internet Explorer Web browser.

Microsoft Corp. issued a warning regarding the flaw this weekend, saying it affects Internet Explorer versions 6 through 11. The vulnerability makes it possible for hackers to take control of a user's computer after it has been infected with malicious code.

The bug was discovered by FireEye, a security company, which said hackers are sending out emails with links to websites that contain malicious code. If users click on a link to one of these websites while using Internet Explorer, it is likely that hackers will gain control of their machines.

For now, security experts advise that Windows users avoid Internet Explorer until Microsoft issues a patch for the problem, which will likely happen May 13. But that patch will not protect users of Windows XP.

That's because Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP earlier this month. After 13 years of maintaining Windows XP, Microsoft said it would no longer issue security updates for the popular operating system.

At the time, Microsoft urged users either to upgrade their operating systems or buy a new machine because the company would not issue solutions for future vulnerabilities.

"This is the first critical Internet Explorer exploit that will not be fixed for Windows XP users ever," said Bogdan Botezatu, a senior e-threat analyst at Bitdefender, a security firm. "This exploit will stay working forever — until (Windows XP users) move to a different operating system."

Botezatu recommends that Windows XP users do not use Internet Explorer ever again. Those who wish to remain on Windows XP should use Web browsers that still support the outdated operating system.

Among those is Google's Chrome browser. Last year, Google said Chrome will continue to support Windows XP at least until early 2015. Botezatu said Firefox is also a good option.

For now, Windows XP users have a way to work around the problem, but the next time a major issue is discovered, they may not be so lucky, Botezatu said.

Windows XP users "should see this Internet Explorer incident as a lesson because the next time hackers might find a bridge ... in a critical component of Windows, without which Windows itself would not work," Botezatu said.

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EducatedLocalBoy wrote:
That's the problem when Microsoft has a monopoly on operating systems. Microsoft can make everyone buy its new operating system or buy a new computer because there is no other alternative. So much for the people who laud the unregulated free market system. There must always be regulation on business -- history has proven this time and time again. Why just as late as 2008, the stocks and bonds industry crashed because of deregulation -- the governmental protections which were put in place to combat the reasons why the market crashed in 1929 were repealed and soon thereafter the market crashed for the same reasons why it crashed in 1929.
on April 28,2014 | 07:08PM
HanabataDays wrote:
As long as the bug is in IE, it'll NEVER affect me. Haven't used that old hippo in years.
on April 29,2014 | 03:47AM
awahana wrote:
Yep. Just more MS scare tactics to try and improve the dismal Win8 low sales numbers. Market share almost as bad as Vista.
Just use Chrome or Firefox or SeaMonkey and you can keep on keepin' on with XP.
Long live XP. It just works. I'm typing on it now. Hack me baby. :D
on April 29,2014 | 08:18AM
CriticalReader wrote:
As liberal as I am, I've come to the conclusion that we need to impose the death penalty on hackers. It's gotta stop already.
on April 29,2014 | 06:02AM
localguy wrote:
This is a non issue for so many people who only use their computer to read online news, surf to enjoy, watch videos, etc, but do not use it for any financial business. What is there on the PC to hack? Nothing. Way overblown by MS, trying to get people to upgrade. Good to hear most upgrades are to Windows 7. No one wants Windows 8, the equal to Windows failed Millennium. Waiting for Windows 9, hoping MS doesn't botch it up like they did on 8. 8 is a fiasco MS does not want to talk about.
on April 29,2014 | 06:54AM
GoldenRule wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on April 29,2014 | 07:39AM
PMINZ wrote:
Heck we still have some Win 95 and Win 98 PC's in our office since we still use Lotus 1 2 3 from the 1980s. But why does this article go on and on about 'XP' when even the Latest Os win are affected.
on April 29,2014 | 11:21AM
honopic wrote:
At Kaiser, too. At least they were the last time I went there a month ago.
on April 29,2014 | 12:08PM
hilopango wrote:
Who's to say Microsoft didn't make this happen so that XP users would be forced to upgrade? Personally, I don't like Windows 8, and I've not used IE for quite a while now.
on April 29,2014 | 11:18AM
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