Microsoft fix nearly ready for IE flaw used in China attacks

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The Internet Explorer (IE) vulnerability that was used to install espionage trojans on the networks of large corporations, including Google, is scheduled to be fixed on Thursday, Microsoft announced.

The software giant said Wednesday in an advance notification that the patch is due out about 1 p.m. EST on Thursday. The fix will repair a single flaw affecting IE 6, 7 and 8 for all versions of Windows.

"Once [the patch is] applied, customers are protected against the known attacks that have been widely publicized," Jerry Bryant, senior security program manager at Microsoft, said Wednesday in a blog post. "We recommend that customers install the update as soon as it is available." 

The vulnerability came to light last week after Google disclosed that its systems were targeted by sophisticated malware designed to steal company secrets on behalf of Chinese hackers. More than 30 other companies, including Adobe, Northrop Grumman, and Juniper also were targeted.

U.S. officials reportedly are asking Chinese leaders for an explanation for the intrusions, which Google detected in December.

So far, according to Microsoft, only machines running IE 6 have been affected.

"Based on our comprehensive monitoring of the threat landscape, we continue to see only limited attacks," Bryant said. "We continue to recommend that customers update to Internet Explorer 8 to benefit from the improved security protection it offers."

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