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1/4/2007
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OpenOffice.org Patches WMF Bug

Using a malformed WMF image, an attacker could cause a buffer overflow on OpenOffice-equipped computers and introduce additional malicious code remotely to hijack the system.

OpenOffice.org patched its namesake open-source application suite and fixed a flaw in how the software processes the same file format that plagued Microsoft Windows with major problems in 2005.

Earlier this week, OpenOffice.org posted a patch for the Windows, Linux, and Solaris editions of the bundle to fix a flaw in how WMF (Windows Metafile) image files are processed. Using a malformed WMF image, an attacker could cause a buffer overflow on OpenOffice-equipped computers, then possibly introduce additional malicious code remotely to hijack the system.

In December 2005, a different WMF vulnerability in Windows was exploited by attackers and identity thieves; the problem was serious enough for Microsoft to rush out a fix by Jan. 5, nearly a week before the next regularly-scheduled security update. Microsoft went "out-of-cycle" on a patch only twice during all of 2006.

Danish vulnerability tracker Secunia pegged the OpenOffice.org vulnerability as "Highly critical," its second-from-the-top ranking in a five-level threat scoring system. Secunia also recommended that users apply the patch -- a single file must be downloaded and then substituted manually by the user for its earlier incarnation -- or update to the month-old version 2.1.

The patches can be found at the OpenOffice.org FTP servers noted here.

Linux distributors such as Red Hat have also updated their own versions of the suite by posting patches on their Web sites.

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