Microsoft Word Software Vulnerabilities

You may be wondering how a virus could infect your computer from Microsoft Word software. Many assume that viruses and other malicious software can only infect a computer if an executable file is downloaded or accessed from the internet, but this isn't always the case; malicious software is cleverly disguised as trusted software, or documents which can be opened by certified computer software, to exploit vulnerable system components.

If you open a potentially dangerous document in any version of Microsoft Word software below version 2003 (or 2003 itself if you do not have both service packs) then you could leave your computer at risk from serious malware infection. In this case, the buffer overload vulnerability is exploited; an unsolicited document will execute the buffer overload vulnerability in Microsoft Word using macros or corrupt information and execute an arbitrary code on the system. If the document is opened by a user who has administrative privileges then the attacker could easily access computer files, data and settings.

The first announcement of the buffer vulnerability was made by Microsoft Security in 2007 as a "critical" security update. Users with Microsoft 2000 or below, and in some instances users operating Microsoft Word XP software, were most at risk from the vulnerability.

However, Microsoft Security issued a Service Pack update immediately to reduce the risk of further infection. Users who are not aware of the security bulletin and are still using an older version of Microsoft Word software should consider downloading a new version of Microsoft Word, or the Microsoft Word Service Pack update.

Although the vulnerability did not cause widespread infection in this case, there is still a possibility of vulnerabilities being exploited in Microsoft Word software and future updates; as software evolves, so does malware and computer attacks. You can avoid attackers exploiting vulnerable Microsoft Word software components if you:

1. Do not open unsolicited documents.

This includes documents from the internet, from e-mails or other sources where the origin or contents of the word document are not known.

2. Avoid opening documents with unknown file extensions.

Pay close attention to file extensions. Malicious software may not be saved as ".doc" in some instances. However, your computer will call on Microsoft Office software to open certain files if the extensions are similar to normal Microsoft Office extensions, such as ".d0c" or".doc!x" extensions were are not valid Microsoft Word extensions.

3. Keep your anti-virus software up to date.

Anti-virus software is constantly updated to keep up with new malicious devices and infections parading the internet. If you want to protect your Microsoft Word software and your computer from dangerous infections then you should install a well known anti-virus software and always update when your anti-virus software alerts you to application upgrades, or new versions.

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