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Oh my Word, Microsoft reveals zero-day attacks

26 Mar 2014

Microsoft has spotted targeted attacks against a zero-day vulnerability in Microsoft Word 2010, prompting the software giant to release a Fix It solution to users.

Affecting all supported versions of Microsoft Word, Redmond says the vulnerability is a “remote code execution vulnerability”, which could be exploited through Microsoft Outlook only when using Microsoft Word as the email viewer.

“At this time, we are aware of limited, targeted attacks directed at Microsoft Word 2010…” an official security advisory stated.

“The issue is caused when Microsoft Word parses specially crafted RTF-formatted data causing system memory to become corrupted in such a way that an attacker could execute arbitrary code.

“Note that by default, Microsoft Word is the email reader in Microsoft Outlook 2007, Microsoft Outlook 2010, and Microsoft Outlook 2013.”

According to Microsoft, the vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user opens a specially crafted RTF file using an affected version of Microsoft Word, or previews or opens a specially crafted RTF email message in Microsoft Outlook while using Microsoft Word as the email viewer.

“An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user,” the advisory continues.

“Customers whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than those who operate with administrative user rights.

“Applying the Microsoft Fix it solution, "Disable opening RTF content in Microsoft Word," prevents the exploitation of this issue through Microsoft Word.”

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