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Microsoft issues Excel bug warning

Microsoft Office Excel users may be at risk from security vulnerability

Microsoft is warning both Windows and Mac users about a vulnerability found in numerous versions of its popular spreadsheet app. Excel.

According to the firm, the newly discovered bug allows hackers to gain control of Windows and Mac PCs, enabling them to install malicious software, copy and delete files and much more.

The versions affected include Microsoft Office Excel 2003 Service Pack 2, Excel Viewer 2003, Excel 2000 and Excel 2004 for Mac.

Microsoft revealed that Excel 2007 for Windows and Excel 2008 for Mac, along with Excel 2003 Service Pack 3 are not affected by the vulnerability.

In a recent security advisory , Microsoft officials stated: "In a web-based attack scenario, an attacker would have to host a website that contains a specially crafted Excel file that is used to attempt to exploit this vulnerability.

"In addition, compromised websites and sites that accept or host user-provided content could contain specially crafted content that could exploit this vulnerability. An attacker would have no way to force users to visit these websites. Instead, an attacker would have to persuade users to visit the website, typically by getting them to click a link in an e-mail message or instant messenger message that takes users to the attacker's site."

Microsoft is warning users not to open e-mail attachments from unknown senders. The firm is also urging netizens to turn on their system's firewall and update their anti-virus definitions.

Meanwhile, the firm's security team is working on a patch to be released as part of its regular patch Tuesday schedule or as a stand-alone update.

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