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Microsoft releases patch for critical IE security flaw

Faced with malicious attackers exploiting Internet Explorer, Redmond releases a critical security patch outside its normal cycle.

Microsoft released a critical security patch on Wednesday to plug vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, a move that comes amid malicious attackers taking advantage of the security flaws.

The patch is designed to prevent attackers from downloading malware onto users' computers if they visit a malicious Web site, or a legitimate Web site that has been infected.

This zero-day exploit has been in circulation since the first week of December and potentially could have infected a wide swath of users.

The vulnerabilities are found in not only IE 7, Microsoft's latest browser, but also Internet Explorer 5.01, Internet Explorer 6, and Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1.