Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global
network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have warned
internet users to take care when opening unsolicited Word
documents, following the discovery of Trojan horses being
distributed via an unpatched Microsoft security vulnerability.
Microsoft says in a security advisory
that it is investigating the vulnerability which appears to allow
hackers to launch attacks via Microsoft Word 2000, Microsoft Word
2002, Microsoft Office Word 2003, Microsoft Word Viewer 2003,
Microsoft Word 2004 for Mac, and Microsoft Word 2004 v. X for Mac.
Microsoft Works 2004, 2005, and 2006 are also affected.
Sophos experts have issued protection against two Trojan horses,
have been seen being distributed via the unpatched flaw.
"It appears that hackers are deliberately creating malformed
Word documents that result in a buffer overflow that can then run
unauthorized code on the user's computer," said Graham Cluley, senior
technology consultant for Sophos. "They can then tell the computer
to download and run malware, such as these Trojan horses, opening
the door for all kinds of malicious behavior."
At the time of writing Microsoft has published information about
the vulnerability on its website, but has not yet issued a
"So far the vulnerability does not appear to be being widely
exploited. Nevertheless, Microsoft will be keen to build at patch
for the security hole as quickly as possible, and computer users
should exercise caution about which Word documents they choose to
open," continued Cluley.
Sophos recommends that every IT manager responsible for security
should consider subscribing to vulnerability mailing lists such as
that operated by Microsoft at www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/notify.mspx.
Sophos continues to recommend companies protect their desktops
and servers with automatically updated
anti-virus protection and appropriate firewall defenses.