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INTERNET EXPLORER HAS SECURITY FLAW

German computer researchers Thursday reported they have found a security problem with Microsoft Corp.'s new Web browsing software, Internet Explorer 4.0, that could make innocent browser users vulnerable to snoops.

The security hole allows an outsider to read files on a computer equipped with IE 4.0 -- as well as certain computers linked to it -- provided the name and location of the files is known to the outsider.

Microsoft executives say they are aware of the problem and are creating a fix for it, but do not consider the flaw serious.

The patch for the hole was expected to be available today from Microsoft's Web site, www.microsoft.com, according to Dave Fester, group product manager for IE 4.0.

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