It's bad enough when a malware or spyware infection leaves your machine chugging along at a snails pace. What about when it renders your machine unbootable, however? That's the story, it seems, with a newly discovered exploit that can be carried out on HP and Compaq laptops that have HP's Software Update utility installed, which most do by default.

The first of two exploits can render the Windows kernel corrupted and thus the machine unbootable, and apparently is the simpler of the two. An easy fix, for a techie, but a nightmare for others.

The second flaw, also through the HP Update Software, is less dangerous and requires more user intervention, via clicking a link to a malicious site. It affects Windows 2000, XP and Vista, whether you are using IE6 or IE7. Obviously it is up to HP at this point to post a fix, and they definitely should do such soon.