Microsoft has issued an emergency security update to fix a zer0-day vulnerability that is present in all versions of its Internet Explorer Web browser and that is actively being exploited. In an unexpected twist, the company says Windows XP users also will get the update, even though Microsoft officially ceased supporting XP last month.
The rushed patch comes less than five days after the software giant warned users about active attacks that attempt to exploit a previously unknown security flaw in every supported version of IE. This flaw can be used to silently install malicious software without any help from users, save for perhaps browsing to a hacked or malicious site.
“We have made the decision to issue a security update for Windows XP users,” writes Dustin C. Childs, group manager, response communications at Microsoft. “Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft, and we continue to encourage customers to migrate to a modern operating system, such as Windows 7 or 8.1. Additionally, customers are encouraged to upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer, IE 11.”
Microsoft says the majority of customers have automatic updates enabled and will not need to take any action because protections will be downloaded and installed automatically. Windows users who don’t take advantage of the automatic updates feature of Windows (or who don’t wish to wait around for it to install the patch) can do so by visiting Windows Update.