Money Minute: Microsoft Users Face New Cyberthreat


Another potential problem for millions of computer users to worry about.

Many of us still haven't figured out how to deal with the Heartbleed hack attack, and now there's a new threat to many users of Microsoft's popular Internet Explorer browser. The company is warning that a newly discovered flaw could allow hackers to have complete access to users' computer files. This is especially true for computers still using the aging Windows XP platform, which Microsoft (MSFT) stopped providing technical support for earlier this month. At this point, there's no fix available for the new bug.

We've reported a number of times on the huge horde of cash many U.S. companies -- especially tech firms -- hold overseas, often to avoid paying a big tax bill if they brought that money back home. But now Google (GOOG) could be hit be a hefty bill for back taxes owed to the French government. The exact amount is still uncertain, but news reports say it could reach $1.4 billion. From the European point of view, Google and other firms placed their overseas headquarters in low-tax countries such as Ireland, to avoid the higher rates in the countries where they make the most money.

Pfizer (PFE) refuses to take "no" for an answer. The company is once again pursuing a takeover of the European drug-giant AstraZeneca (AZN), which turned down a $100 billion offer earlier this year.

Here on Wall Street last week, the three major averages edged lower Friday due to a big sell-off. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI), the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) each fell less than 1 percent.

One of the main reasons behind the selling late in the week was the ramping up of tensions between Russia and Ukraine. A big part of that concern is the potential damage an escalation of sanctions against Russia could have on the economies of Europe. Trade between the two totals more than $460 billion a year, and if their economies suffer, it could have a ripple effect on the U.S. and elsewhere.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

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