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Exploit Wednesday arrives with new MS Word zero-day

Just 24 hours after Microsoft issued patches for critical holes in its Office suite, a brand-new Word zero-day attack is underway.
Written by Ryan Naraine, Contributor on

Just 24 hours after Microsoft issued patches for critical holes in its Office suite, a brand-new Word zero-day attack is underway.

Redmond issued a pre-patch advisory to acknowledge the vulnerability, which is being exploited to launch PC takeover attacks against users of Office 2000 and Microsoft Office XP.

The attacks are described as "very limited" and aimed at specific business targets.

"In order for this attack to be carried out, a user must first open a malicious Office file attached to an e-mail or otherwise provided to them by an attacker," Microsoft said.

The next patch batch isn't due until Tuesday, March 13th. In the meantime, the only advice from Microsoft is to be wary of Office files that arrive from untrusted sources.

Word .docs that arrive unexpectedly from work colleagues should also be viewed with suspicion.

Anti-virus vendor McAfee first flagged this issue on February 9 but, at the time, it was listed as a simple denial-of-service bug that crashed the word processing program.  In other words, a failed exploit attempt.  Further investigations have confirmed that code-execution is possible.

The original attack intercepted by McAfee was an attempt to drop a Trojan that opened a backdoor on the hijacked machine. 

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