Microsoft Corp. is taking the unusual step of issuing an emergency fix for a security hole in its Internet Explorer software that has exposed millions of users to having their computers taken over by hackers, reports the Associated Press. The "zero-day" vulnerability, which came to light last week, allows criminals to take over victims’ machines simply by steering them to infected web sites; users don’t have to download anything for their computers to get infected, which makes the flaw in Internet Explorer’s programming code so dangerous. Internet Explorer is the world’s most widely used web browser. Microsoft said it planed to ship a security update, rated "critical," for the browser on Dec. 17. People with the Windows Update feature activated on their computers will get the patch automatically. Thousands of web sites already have been compromised by criminals looking to exploit the flaw. Microsoft said it has seen attacks targeting the flaw only in Internet Explorer 7, the most widely used version, but has cautioned that all other current editions of the browser are vulnerable. Microsoft rarely issues security fixes for its software outside of its regular monthly updates. The company last did it in October, and a year and half before that…

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