Microsoft warns of new Excel vulnerability

Attackers are exploiting a vulnerability that lies within several software updates for versions of the Excel spreadsheet program, Microsoft warned late Tuesday.

Attackers are exploiting a vulnerability that lies within several versions of the Excel spreadsheet program, Microsoft warned late Tuesday.

The problem in Excel allows a hacker to create a malicious Excel document that when opened can compromise a computer, Microsoft said in an advisory. The vulnerability could allow remote code to be executed on a computer, which means a user risks having their personal data exposed.

Microsoft downplayed the risk, saying only targeted attacks have been seen. But since Microsoft Excel documents are commonly used for business, vulnerabilities such as this pose a greater risk.

"Users are familiar with the document being sent to them and are likely to open it," wrote security analyst Maarten Van Horenbeeck, in a commentary on the Web site for the SANS Internet Storm Center, which monitors Internet threats.

The vulnerability is within the Microsoft Office Excel 2003 Service Pack 2, Microsoft Office Excel Viewer 2003, Microsoft Office Excel 2002, Microsoft Office Excel 2000 and the Mac version, Microsoft Excel 2004.

Those who have installed Office Service Pack 3, which includes updates for Excel as well as other products in the office productivity suite, are not affected, Microsoft said. That service pack was released last September.

Also not affected are Microsoft Office Excel 2007, Microsoft Office Excel 2007 Service Pack 1 and Microsoft Excel 2008 for the Mac.

A PC user could be attacked a couple different ways. An e-mail with a malicious Excel attachment could be sent, upon which a user would have to download and open it to be exposed, Microsoft said. A hacker could also create a Web site hosting the file and try to persuade people to download it.

Microsoft did not indicate when it would issue a patch for the problem. People who think they may have been attacked can contact Microsoft and their national law enforcement agency.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?