Patch Plugs Win XP Hole Without SP1

Third-party program rescues Win XP users having trouble installing Microsoft’s update to fix serious flaw.

Windows XP users unable to successfully install the operating system’s first service pack face a bad choice: an unstable system or a vulnerable one with an extremely serious hole that the newly released SP1 corrects. Now, a software developer has released a freeware tool to block exploits of the previously undisclosed flaw–even without SP1.

The flaw, described on a handful of security message boards and revealed earlier this week, relates to the operation of Windows XP’s Help and Support Center’s “self healing” function. It could let a malicious cracker delete files by remote access. The exploit could be easily distributed as a URL in an e-mail or on a Web site.

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