Microsoft May Release Out-of-Cycle Patch for Word Flaw
Late Friday, Microsoft confirmed "very limited, targeted" attacks
on an open Microsoft Word security flaw. The company is currently researching
a patch -- one that it may not wait for its regular Patch Tuesday to release.
The flaw affects most versions of Word that are not running on Windows Server 2003 SP2, Vista or Vista SP1. Hackers can execute buffer overrun attacks by taking advantage of a flaw in Microsoft's Jet Database Engine (Jet) in Word that can allow the remote execution of code, according to Microsoft's security advisory on the issue. Windows Server 2003 and Vista are not vulnerable as they use a different version of Jet.
Microsoft is also investigating whether other products that use Jet may be
"Upon completion of this investigation, Microsoft will take the appropriate
action to help protect our customers. This may include providing a security
update through our monthly release process or providing an out-of-cycle security
update, depending on customer needs," the company said.
For now, Redmond has posted a workaround for the flaw in the security advisory that shows administrators how to restrict Jet from running as well as block .MDB attachments through Microsoft Exchange or other mail systems.
Customers could also cause their software to be infected via the Web if they are lured into visiting
a Web site that "contains a specially crafted Word file that is used to
attempt to exploit this vulnerability."
Microsoft said that because successfully exploiting the flaw requires "customers
to take multiple steps" in order to be affected, the risk is "very
limited." A successful attack would mean that the hacker would gain the
same rights as the user of the machine.