These two weeks of Word flaws – can we survive?

Courtesy of Juha-Matti Laurio at the Securiteam Blogs:

http://blogs.securiteam.com/?p=764

Since 5th December we have seen three separate, serious vulnerabilities in Microsoft Word:

[Disclosed – original reference – CVE name
Affected products and product versions]

Tue 5th Dec – MS Security Advisory #929433 – CVE-2006-5994 and FAQ
Word 2003/2002/2000, Word 2004/v. X for Mac, Works 2006/2005/2004, Word Viewer 2003

Sat 9th Dec – MSRC Blog entry 10th Dec – CVE-2006-6456
Word 2003/2002/2000, Word Viewer 2003

Tue 12th Dec – Fuzzing list posting – CVE-2006-6561
Word 2003/2002/2000, Word 2004/v. X for Mac, Word Viewer 2003, OpenOffice.org 2/1.1.3, AbiWord 2.2

Of course, vulnerabilities in Word (and other MS Office components) are not new, but this recent wave demonstrate (yet again) just how bad the software industry can be and how security was never a consideration during the original design. Hopefully the recent buzz will finally make Microsoft spend serious time auditing the other big business applications like Visio and Project among others.

When reading various security resources, it constantly amuses me that they all seem to ignore the obvious conclusion and short sighted ‘solutions’ they recommend. “Don’t open [filetype] from untrusted people.” We’ve seen this in the past with ‘executables’ to help stop trojan attacks, ‘gif/jpg/bmp’ to stop various overflows and code execution situations in image processing software, ‘excel’ files after a small wave of vulnerabilities were found in MS Excel, and now ‘word’ documents. The people giving this advice are security professionals in many cases, and they all seem to forget that a fundamental component of security is trust. In short, quit specifying a given file format that is the craze of the day. “Don’t open ANY file from untrusted people.”

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