In the latest issue of my column, I wrote about a severe vulnerability in Windows. All Windows! The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if the icon of a specially crafted shortcut is displayed. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the local user.
Their temporary fix would break much of your system. So, Microsoft rushed a patch and pushed it out Monday as a Windows update. It should fix the problem. It will require a reboot after installing, but I have not seen any reports of problems with people performing the update.
Microsoft states that this only fixes WindowsXP Service Pack 3 and above. They warn, "It should be a priority for customers who have older releases of the software to migrate to supported releases to prevent potential exposure to vulnerabilities. To determine the support lifecycle for your software release, see Select a Product for Lifecycle Information. For more information about service packs for these software releases, see Lifecycle Supported Service Packs."
Make sure that you run the Windows Updates regularly to protect yourself. However, as always, I highly suggest that you have current backups, as problems can arise whenever you fiddle with the Operating System or installing software. For more info see Microsoft's Security Bulletin on this item.
Important information for MSWindows users.