What You Need to Know About Microsoft's (MSFT) Internet Explorer Threat

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Microsoft (MSFT) has warned of a flaw in all versions of Internet Explorer which could leave a significant number of internet users vulnerable to attack. 

FireEye (FEYE), the security company which identified the flaw, said hackers are focusing on versions 9 through 11, which puts around 26% of global browser users in jeopardy.

The nature of the threat, however, means users won't instantly be compromised simply by using the browser. Users would have to click on an attacker's website or access malicious links.

In a statement, Microsoft explains, "An attacker would have no way to force users to visit these websites. Instead, an attacker would have to convince users to visit the website, typically by getting them to click a link in an email message or Instant Messenger message that takes users to the attacker's website."

Once in though, hackers could remotely install viruses or even harvest private information.

Microsoft said it plans to issue a patch once it finishes investigating the issue. In the meantime, FireEye recommends using Internet Explorer's enhanced protection settings or to disable Adobe Flash plugins.

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TheStreet Ratings team rates MICROSOFT CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate MICROSOFT CORP (MSFT) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, reasonable valuation levels, solid stock price performance and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • Although MSFT's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.26 is very low, it is currently higher than that of the industry average. Along with this, the company maintains a quick ratio of 3.01, which clearly demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. When compared to other companies in the Software industry and the overall market, MICROSOFT CORP's return on equity exceeds that of the industry average and significantly exceeds that of the S&P 500.
  • Compared to its closing price of one year ago, MSFT's share price has jumped by 25.50%, exceeding the performance of the broader market during that same time frame. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, MSFT should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • MICROSOFT CORP's earnings per share declined by 5.5% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, MICROSOFT CORP increased its bottom line by earning $2.60 versus $2.00 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.69 versus $2.60).

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