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Critical IE 7 exploit making the rounds

Microsoft issues warning of a nefarious Internet Explorer 7 exploit that is making the rounds, which carries the potential of installing malware onto users' computers.

Microsoft issued a critical security warning Tuesday that a malicious exploit is making the rounds and attacking vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer 7.

The risk is believed to be widespread, given that IE 7 is the latest version of Microsoft's browser and is bundled with XP service pack 3 and also Vista, said Dave Marcus, director of security research and communications for McAfee's Avert Labs.

The AZN Trojan, whichhas been making the rounds since the first week of December, has the potential of infecting users' system with a Trojan horse, or "downloaders" that can download other forms of malware onto a user's system.

Microsoft announced it will release a security patch Wednesday via its automatic update system to patch users computers.

Users can potentially get infected two ways, Marcus said. One is to visit a malicious Web site that already has the malware installed on the site, or visit a legitimate site, in which the attacker has inserted the malicious script to run in the background, leaving visitors unaware their systems have been compromised.

"A lot of Web sites are pushing out this exploit," Marcus noted. Some of the infected sites include Web sites that offer free wallpaper for mobile phones to sites that feature property to product-related sites.

Microsoft is encouraging users to update their systems once the patch is released Wednesday at 10 a.m. PDT.