Your Microsoft Office package and IT security at large may be vulnerable if you haven’t updated your Office Suite. Hackers have been having a ball - seen from their recent attacks on MS Office using Microsoft Office exploits.
An exploit is a cleverly written and distorted clump of data that is written into a file that opens with certain software like Office or Internet Explorer. On running the application, it crashes and leaves your system open to hackers. They can then do whatever they please-from tracking keystrokes to inserting malware and viruses. Like the name suggests, these codes literally exploit a weakness in a machine and destroy data, or do something else to the satisfaction of the developer at your expense.
These exploits are sometimes malicious enough to attack your computer even before you open the document. All you need is to preview it and the army of viruses and malware attach themselves onto your hard drive.
To be forearmed, you need to know the names of these so called exploits that cyber criminals use. One famous and utterly stubborn one was CVE-2015-1641 that reared its ugly head in August 2015. It is beaten by a worse one, the older CVE-2012-0158.
Why do these hackers target Office? There are two reasons why. First of all, the number of computers that have the Office package worldwide are upward of 1 billion as of 2015. That’s a whole lot of computers and an attractive playground for cybercriminals. Secondly, reaching all of them at once seems to be easy once the stricter than normal security structures set in place are breached by brilliant hackers. Microsoft has a reputation for safety, and that’s why it thrills cyber criminals when they manage to break through that security wall.
The Worst Exploit So Far
As the name suggests, the CVE-2012-0158 exploit became active in 2012 and mostly moves via email. Susceptible versions of Microsoft products include Microsoft Office 2003 SP3 and Web Components SP3, Microsoft Office 2007 SP2 and SP3 and Microsoft Office 2010 Gold and SP1. Also, those running BizTalk Server 2002 SP1 and Visual Basic 6.0 Runtime need to update their packages.
Microsoft keeps giving security advisories on such vulnerabilities in their programs, a fix it solution to counter the exploits and updates to make personal computers safe. Be on your guard. If your office package is long overdue for an update, it is time to get an update because you may be the next victim to fall to a hacker’s exploit.
The nature of malware is such that it comes in any form, and you cannot really be prepared from home unless you know quite a bit about software development. There could be Trojan horses waiting or spyware lurking behind a seemingly innocent email or document. Even adware can mask itself as genuine adverts that tempt you to click on them and in no time, scripts and active content are taking control of your computer’s core functions.
When you open a document on a vulnerable version of an Office package, you create a window for malware to attach to your device. Updated versions, fortunately, can detect such affronts, stop harmful downloads to your computer and save your machine. Stay alert for Microsoft office updates for the sake of your computer’s security.
Written By Kevin Gray
Hello! I am the Sales Manager and one of the Senior IT Consultants @ EnvisionIT Solutions. I help our clients envision great technology solutions that help their businesses grow. Let me know if you have any questions. I am an avid outdoorsman who loves fly fishing and camping. I also love sports – soccer, basketball, football….