We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,258 News Articles

Microsoft warns of Word attacks

RTF-based exploits making the rounds

Hackers are exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft Word to plant malware on Windows PCs, Microsoft has warned.

The bug in Microsoft Word 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2010 was patched on 9 November as part of Microsoft's monthly security update .

Word 2008 and 2011 for the Mac have also been patched, but Microsoft has not yet issued a fix for the same flaw in the older Word 2004. The circulating attacks affect only Windows versions of the suite, however.

According to the Microsoft Malware Protection Centre (MMPC), the group that investigates attack code and issues signature updates for the company's antivirus software, the first in-the-wild exploits were detected last week.

When Microsoft shipped the Word patch last month, it rated the bug as "1" on its exploitability index, meaning it believed a working attack would pop up within 30 days.

The attack uses a malicious RTF (Rich Text Format) file to generate a stack overflow in Word on Windows, said MMPC researcher Rodel Finones. Following a successful exploit, the attack code downloads and runs a Trojan horse on the compromised computer.

Finones said that the code "reliably exploits this [Word] vulnerability."

Last month, Microsoft rated the RTF vulnerability as "critical" in Word 2007 and 2010, but as "important" in all other affected versions.

At the time, outside researchers had put their bets on the bug as a hacker choice because users running Office 2007 or 2010 could be attacked if all they did was preview a specially-crafted RTF document in the Outlook e-mail client.

"Once a [malformed] message hits the Outlook preview pane, remote code can be executed. You should patch this right away," Jason Miller, the data and security team manager for Shavlik Technologies, said on the day Microsoft released the patch.

Finones urged users who have not yet installed the November patch to do so as soon as possible.

More information about the vulnerability can be found in the MS10-087 security bulletin.

The MS10-087 update can be downloaded and installed using Microsoft Update and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).


IDG UK Sites

Best Black Friday 2014 tech deals UK: Get bargains on phones, tablets, laptops and more this Black...

IDG UK Sites

Tomorrow's World today (or next year)

IDG UK Sites

25 iOS apps turn (Red) for World AIDS Day campaign

IDG UK Sites

Advanced tips for Mac OS X Yosemite: use Yosemite like an expert - 5 new tips added