The third service pack for Microsoft Office 2003 is now available for download.
According to eWeek, SP3 enhances security by including recent and individually released patches. Several new features and tools are included in the package, such as MOICE (Microsoft Office Isolated Conversion Environment) and File Block, which is actually developed as part of Office 2007.
MOICE allows users to open Microsoft Office documents from unknown senders with relative safety. It uses the converters in the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 file formats to convert binary format files into the newer Office Open XML Format...
File Block complements MOICE by allowing IT administrators to temporarily prevent certain file formats from opening through registry or group policy. This provides companies with the flexibility needed to quickly respond to evolving threats without unduly limiting productivity...
There are some changes in Office 2003 SP3 that might adversely affect systems and workflows though:
- Office 2003 SP3 now automatically tests and limits all COM components with potentially insecure functions. This might result in some components not being able to work at all or run with reduced functionality
- Legacy file formats are also blocked by default to prevent vulnerabilities in the older formats from being used as an attack vector
- Fast save feature in Word 2003 has been disabled to protect against improper disclosure due to certain types of metadata being inadvertently saved (Fast save is a feature that speeds up document saving)
Given the downside highlighted above, would you install Office 2003 SP3 in your organization?
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Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.