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Google hackers exploited security hole in Microsoft's Internet Explorer

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, second from left; former Google China executive Kai-Fu Lee, center; and Google executive Johnny Chou, right, in better times. Credit: Doug Kanter/Bloomberg News.
Attackers targeting Google and other U.S. companies exploited a new security hole in Internet Explorer, Microsoft said.

In a statement, Microsoft admitted that Internet Explorer was one of the "vectors."

Microsoft said it is working with Google, partners and authorities. It is working on a patch for the hole, which could allow an attacker to gain control of a computer if the target clicks on a link in an e-mail or an instant message.

Earlier in the day, McAfee detailed how attackers targeted Google. 

Wrote McAfee CTO George Kurtz: "As with most targeted attacks, the intruders gained access to an organization by sending a tailored attack to one or a few targeted individuals. We suspect these individuals were targeted because they likely had access to valuable intellectual property. These attacks will look like they come from a trusted source, leading the target to fall for the trap and clicking a link or file. That's when the exploitation takes place, using the vulnerability in Microsoft's Internet Explorer." 

Once downloaded and installed, malware allows the attacker to take over the compromised system.

Google stunned the world by going public with the attacks on Tuesday. It said the attacks originated in China and that human rights activists' e-mail accounts were targeted.

McAfee said it believes attackers named the operation "Aurora."

-- Jessica Guynn

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