Cybercrooks turn to hacking many applications

Posted on July 12, 2006 

Cybercrooks turn to hacking many applications

But the ad belies an alarming shift in cyberattacks. Cyberintruders once bent on breaking into the Windows operating system are increasingly probing for vulnerabilities in popular software applications — and not just Microsoft’s.

Critical security holes have been turning up in Web browsers, anti-virus programs, word processors, spreadsheets and digital media players. “As we start to see the operating system become more secure, the criminals are moving up the application layer trying to attack Office or iTunes or RealPlayer,” says Stephen Toulouse, Microsoft security response center program manager.

Tainted spreadsheets. Microsoft on Tuesday issued patches for 17 security holes — a dozen for its ubiquitous Office programs. One flaw was discovered in mid-June by a corporation. An employee had opened a tainted Excel spreadsheet attachment, which then took control of the PC, says David Cole, director of Symantec’s security response center.

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