Microsoft has issued a security advisory urging all users to install an update that disables the Sidebar and Gadgets features on Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems due to a potential security vulnerability.

The security advisory warns that a hacker could get into a user’s system through an insecure Gadget running in Sidebar, execute arbitrary code and wreak havoc on the system. The Sidebar, as its name implies, is a section of the desktop real estate that lies to one side of the screen. Gadgets running in Sidebar are various tools, created with small amounts of code, which a user can see at a glance while working on their computer, such as a clock, the local temperature, a news headline feed or a stock ticker.

“Gadgets installed from untrusted sources can harm your computer and can access your computer’s files, show you objectionable content, or change their behavior at any time,” Microsoft stated in its security advisory, posted July 10.

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