Microsoft releases two security patches

Microsoft has released patches for security holes in Word 97 and the Microsoft Forms version 2.0 ActiveX Control that made them vulnerable to potential hacker attacks, though no such instances of foul play have been reported, according to the company.

Word 97 warns users when a document is being opened that has macros; however, if the document has no macros but is linked to a template that does, there is no warning. A hacker could therefore create malicious code to potentially damage or obtain data on a user's computer when a Word document is opened from an e-mail attachment or at a World Wide Web site. The user wouldn't know that a macro -- possibly containing the miscreant's wayward code -- existed.

The Word 97 Template security patch adds a warning so that users know when they are launching a template containing a macro. The patch does not disable use of templates or macros on templates, Microsoft said in a statement today, recommending that all users download the patch at http://officeupdate.microsoft.com/downloaddetails/wd97sp.htmThe Microsoft Forms 2.0 Control allows developers to create custom dialogue boxes. It is part of Visual Basic for Applications installed with Office 97, Project 98 and other options of the Visual Basic development system 5.0, as well as in third-party applications that license Visual Basic for Applications. The Forms 2.0 Control is vulnerable to a hacker reading or exporting text on a user clipboard when the user is at a Web site created by a hacker or when the user opens an HTML-based e-mail written by the hacker.

Users who do not know if they have the control on their computers can follow steps posted at http://officeupdate.microsoft.com/downloaddetails/fm2paste.htmThe Microsoft Security Advisor Web site is at http://www.microsoft.com/security

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Nancy Weil

PC World

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