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Attacks targeting an unpatched vulnerability in Microsoft Word 2002 and 2003 have prompted Microsoft to tell users they should run the application in "safe mode".

The workaround does not address the underlying vulnerability, but running Word in safe mode will thwart current attacks based on the vulnerability, Microsoft advises.

Redmond is testing a more complete fix, which is scheduled for delivery on 13 June. To run Word in safe mode users need to disable the Outlook feature that invokes Word as a mail editor before restarting their machine and appending /safe to the WINWORD.EXE command line.

Running Word in restricted mode may be good advice, but how many users will follow it?

Microsoft routinely advises users not to run their machine in administrative mode, but this custom is honoured more in the breach than the observance. Aside from this workaround, users are advised to avoid the temptation to open Word documents in unsolicited emails, the main vector of hacking attacks targeting the Word vulnerability.

Microsoft's advisory contains detailed advice on suggested workarounds and can be found here. ®

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