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MS launches Office security blitz

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Microsoft issued five security alerts yesterday. Thankfully, only one, involving a buffer overflow vulnerability with the software giant's applications development suite, is serious enough to merit the dreaded "critical" designation.

As explained in an advisory here, a flaw with Visual Basic for Applications SDK (versions 5.0 to 6.3) might permit an attacker to run code of their fancy on targeted systems if they trick an user into opening an infected document. The package has been used to develop Microsoft applications (such as various versions of Access, Word, Excel, PowerPoint) so they also need patching.

And its not just Office apps, enterprise apps such as Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains 7.5 and Microsoft Business Solutions eEnterprise (versions 6.0 and 7.0) need a patching too. In all 29 apps need fixing. Microsoft has issued a series of patches designed to address the problem, as explained in greater depth here.

One step down the Redmond scale from critical, Microsoft issued a pair of "important" notices overnight. The first involves a buffer overflow vulnerability involving Microsoft's implementation of a WordPerfect document converter in Microsoft Office and other software applications. A separate "important" vulnerability in Microsoft Word might permit macros to run automatically, to potentially devastating effect.

If a cracker were able to succeed in getting a user to open a poisoned document, Microsoft warns that the flaw might allow a malicious macro embedded in the document to be "executed automatically, regardless of the level at which macro security is set".

"The malicious macro could take the same actions that the user had permissions to carry out, such as adding, changing or deleting data or files, communicating with a web site or formatting the hard drive," it adds in an advisory.

Microsoft has issued patches for both these "important" flaws along with fixes for two less serious vulnerabilities.

These concern a "moderate" risk vuln involving a buffer overflow flaw involving Microsoft Access Snapshot Viewer and a "low" risk flaw in Microsoft's Network basic input/output system (NetBIOS) API that might allow snoops to see snippets of random information in your computer's memory over a local network. ®

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