MS Issues Emergency Patch for Internet Explorer

Brandon Dimmel's picture

Microsoft has issued a fix for an Internet Explorer security vulnerability so serious that it prompted the United States' Department of Homeland Security to warn Americans against using the popular web browser. Somewhat surprisingly, Microsoft has also provided a fix for Windows XP -- even after promising not to do so.

The Internet Explorer (IE) flaw was discovered last weekend. If left unpatched, it could allow hackers unprecedented access to a remote PC. Security experts say that Internet Explorer users could become instantly infected simply by visiting a malicious website or clicking on the wrong link. Once a PC has been compromised, malware payloads are typically installed, resulting in identify theft, credit card fraud, or worse.

Department of Homeland Security Issues Stern Warning

Microsoft acknowledged the flaw's existence earlier this week, but not before the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a warning against using the browser.

"The security of our products is something we take incredibly seriously, so the news coverage of the last few days about a vulnerability in Internet Explorer (IE) has been tough for our customers and for us," said Microsoft general manager Adrienne Hall.

To its credit, Microsoft has responded quickly. Yesterday, it issued a fix for the vulnerability through Windows Update. Windows users who have enabled automatic updates should have already had the update installed.

For those with manual updates, Microsoft communications team member Dustin Childs announced that "we strongly encourage you to apply this update as quickly as possible." (Source:

Microsoft Offers Fix for Windows XP After All

The most surprising news about the update is that it has also been offered to Windows XP users, even though the operating system's security support has been discontinued as of April 2014.

In a statement, Hall noted that Microsoft ultimately decided to offer help to Windows XP users because the flaw emerged so close to the end of the operating system's support window. (Source: Of course, it's also likely Microsoft felt some pressure to prevent hundreds of millions of Windows XP computers from being compromised.

Nevertheless, Hall has repeated Microsoft's plea that Windows XP users move on to a newer version of the Windows operating system.

"We're proud that so many people loved Windows XP, but 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," Hall said.

"This is why we've been encouraging Windows XP customers to upgrade to a modern, more secure operating system like Windows 7 or Windows 8.1." (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Did this most recent security episode finally push you to try an alternative web browser, like Chrome or Firefox? Are you at all surprised that Microsoft offered a fix for Windows XP users? Do you think Microsoft issuing a fix for Windows XP users was a wise decision, or should these people feel more pressure to adopt a safer and newer operating system?

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Douglas Godbey's picture

First, I am not surprised that XP got patched since it used IE as a Desktop for display and operation. MS dodged a bullet on that one since the 'flaw' was known to exist for years in IE. Law Suits galore would be flying in the window if they did not fix it there as well.

I find it laughable that it took Federal Homeland Security to get MS to fix the 'flaw' after MS pushed the priority down on the effort for so long. It is also rather 'amazing' that it only took just a week or two for the fix to be finished and sent out to all of us, the users. Goes to show how important the problem was perceived by MS Management.

Now all we need to do is sit back and see if this really fixed the problem! Anyone want to make any bets on that? ;-)

Gene760's picture

I use the IE, I use Chrome, I use Maxthon and other browsers. I found Chrome to be much easier infected than the IE on more than one computer. It loads some pages better, but meanwhile allows malware to install on your computer or as an extension much easier than the IE does. IE for the most part remains unaffected (except maybe once versus a dozen times my Chrome got infected). I have a Google account, so I am somewhat forced to use Chrome in order to enjoy all the features. I just wish Google was as good about patching its browser, as Microsoft at patching the IE.

joela44's picture

I have to wonder what in the world this person is clicking on. I have used IE, Firefox, and Chrome over the years, mostly Chrome these days and I have NEVER been infected. Not once since 1988. Chrome is updated FAR more than IE is or ever was. Firefox also, at least recently constant updates. I just don't understand this post. Person needs help, he (or she) should just ask, I know many people on this forum and several others who would gladly explain how NOT to get infected EVER by following simple straightforward personal security habits. Easy as can be. Visit ANY site, see anything you want to see, NEVER get infected. Go figure