Microsoft has warned users of security flaw in the company's Internet Explorer browser that could allow hackers to take "complete control" of a user's computer.

The glitch affects versions 6 to 11 of Internet Explorer, which collectively account for more than 50 per cent of global web traffic.

The company has issued a security advisory regarding the flaw and says that it is currently exploring ways to fix the vulnerability.

"On completion of this investigation, Microsoft will take the appropriate action to protect our customers, which may include providing a solution through our monthly security update release process, or an out-of-cycle security update, depending on customer needs," wrote the company.

The flaw is particularly hazardous on computers running the recently-discontinued Windows XP operating system. Microsoft ended security support for the 12-year-old software in April, warning users that the lack of updates would put computers running XP at severe risk to hackers and viruses.


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Regarding the newly discovered flaw Microsoft said that it is aware of "limited, targeted attacks" that had taken place, adding that hackers could use a "specially crafted website" to assume control of the user's computer.

"If the current user is logged on with administrative user rights, an attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of an affected system," warned the company.

"An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights."

The company avoided offering any detail regarding the nature of the flaw, saying only that it existed in "the way that Internet Explorer accesses an object in memory that has been deleted or has not been properly allocated."

It isn't clear whether Microsoft will issue a fix for the flaw for Windows XP users or just for individuals running the more recent Vista, 7 and 8 operating systems.

- Independent