updated 9/14/2004 9:01:26 PM ET 2004-09-15T01:01:26

Microsoft Corp. announced Tuesday it has found a new security flaw with its Windows XP operating system and warned that an attacker could infiltrate other computers by persuading their owners to open a specialized graphics file.

The company released a patch to fix the flaw as well as a tool that allows users to scan their systems to see if they need it. Users who have already downloaded Microsoft's recent security update, Service Pack 2, are not affected.

The vulnerability affects people running Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, later versions of Office. People who have earlier versions of Windows or Office may also be affected if they are running some specialized applications, such as Digital Image Pro and Visio 2002.

The flaw is in a technology that is used to render images in the popular JPEG format. It can be exploited only if the user is tricked into opening a specialized file or viewing a specially crafted JPEG image, Microsoft said.

(MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

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