updated 1/21/2010 1:56:59 PM ET 2010-01-21T18:56:59

Microsoft Corp. says it has fixed security holes in its Internet Explorer browser that played a role in recent computer attacks on Google and at least 20 other companies.

Microsoft says it already knew about the problems and was planning to release the fixes in February. The updates affect all versions of the browser.

Hackers can lure people to Web pages containing malicious code, then exploit the browser flaw to take over their computers. Attackers in China may have used the flaw to break into e-mail accounts of human rights activists who oppose the Chinese government's policies.

Google Inc. announced the attacks last week and said it may leave China if the government doesn't stop requiring it to censor search results.

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