RealNews

'Unfixable' Word password hole exposed

A simple hack to Word’s password-protection feature means documents may not be as secure as users believe. No fix is on the way, says Microsoft. Microsoft Word documents that use the software’s built-in password protection to avoid unauthorised editing can easily be modified using a relatively simple hack that was published on a security Web site last Friday. The password-protection feature in Microsoft Word — activated by clicking on Tools/Protect Document — can be bypassed, disabled or deleted at will, with the help of a simple programming tool called a hex editor. The hack does not leave a trace, meaning an unauthorised user could remove the password protection from a document, edit it, and then replace the original password. Microsoft was informed about the vulnerability in late November by Thorsten Delbrouck, chief information officer of Guardeonic Solutions, which is a subsidiary of German security specialist Infineon Technologies. In early December, Microsoft denied there was a problem because, the company said, the password-protection feature is not intended to provide “fool-proof protection for tampering or spoofing” but is “merely a functionality to prevent accidental changes of a document”. Full Story

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