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Another Unpatched Microsoft Word Flaw

Symantec Corp. is reporting that it has spotted active exploitation of yet another undocumented security hole in Microsoft Word. If Symantec's report is correct -- this would mean we now have at least three known unpatched Word vulnerabilities that are currently being exploited by hackers to break into machines running the vulnerable software.

A Microsoft spokesperson said the company was "currently investigating new public reports of a possible vulnerability in Microsoft Word," noting that "there have been very limited attacks reported that are attempting to use the reported vulnerability at this time." Microsoft was widely expected to fix at least one of the three outstanding Word flaws in its patch rollup this month, but at the last minute and without explanation it cut by half the number of patches it had said it planned to issue.

Symantec's advisory doesn't say how this attack was executed, though it was most likely through a poisoned Word document attached to an e-mail. According to the "technical details" portion of the advisory, if the recipient opens the Word document, it downloads four executable files onto the victim's machine and opens up a "backdoor" that attackers can use to gain direct access to the infected machine. It also creates a blank file called "Summary on China's 2006 Defense White paper.doc" and contacts a Web server that is hosted in China.

As Security Fix noted earlier this month, Office vulnerabilities were Microsoft's biggest weakness in 2006. These flaws will continue to be their soft spot again this year, even for people who upgrade to Microsoft Vista, the next version of Windows that will debut in electronics stores next week.

By Brian Krebs  |  January 26, 2007; 9:11 AM ET
Categories:  Latest Warnings  
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