14 August 2006 | 4,212 views

OpenOffice.org Security ‘Insufficient’

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It seems people are turning some attention towards the security of Open Office finally, I for one say this is a good thing as it means it’s making inroads, it’s becoming popular, it’s getting to be a contender.

If people are seriously considering the security implications of using Open Office it means they are actually really interested in using it.

With Microsoft Corp.’s Office suite now being targeted by hackers, researchers at the French Ministry of Defense say users of the OpenOffice.org software may be at even greater risk from computer viruses.

“The general security of OpenOffice is insufficient,” the researchers wrote in a paper entitled “In-depth analysis of the viral threats with OpenOffice.org documents.”

“This suite is up to now still vulnerable to many potential malware attacks,” they wrote.

The paper describes four proof-of-concept viruses that illustrate how maliciously encoded macros and templates could be created to compromise systems running the open-source software. “The viral hazard attached to OpenOffice.org is at least as high as that for the Microsoft Office suite, and even higher when considering some … aspects,” they wrote.

This is an interesting paper, I’m glad someone did take a rather more in-depth look at the flaws in the Open Office suite.

At least they patch the flaws almost instantly.

A number of the problems described in the report have to do with the basic design of the software. For example, OpenOffice.org does not perform adequate security checks on the software it runs, the researcher said. And because of the extreme flexibility of the free office suite, there are many ways for writers to create malicious macros, the researchers found.

The OpenOffice.org team has already fixed a software bug discovered by the French researchers, and the two groups are in discussions about how to improve the overall security of the software, said Louis Suarez-Potts, an OpenOffice.org community manager.

“The one real flaw in the programming logic has been fixed,” Suarez-Potts said. “The others are theoretical.”

I’d be interested to see some more focus on OpenOffice.Org and it’s security architecture, and of course following this to see all the flaws fixed to make it a strong contender.

Source: InfoWorld



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