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Microsoft releases latest Outlook security 'patch'
From CNN's Sci/Tech Unit
SEATTLE (CNN) -- Microsoft Thursday released its latest Outlook security "patch" designed to protect against viruses spread through e-mail, like the recent Love Bug and its variants that disrupted computer systems worldwide.
The security patch for Outlook 98 and Outlook 2000 e-mail programs is available free of charge for download at Microsoft's Web site: http://officeupdate.microsoft.com
Once downloaded, the security fix can restrict the type of e-mail attachments a user can open.
"With this update, Outlook will be substantially more secure," said Steve Sinofsky, senior vice president of Microsoft Office.
Microsoft's security update works by making four changes in the Outlook e-mail program. First, Outlook users who have installed this update will no longer be able to open certain attachments unless e-mail system administrators allow it.
The second and third fixes are designed to diminish the spread of worm viruses by notifying Outlook e-mail users with a dialogue box that a program is trying to access or send an e-mail from the user's Outlook address book. Worm viruses, like the Melissa virus or the Love Bug virus, typically spread rapidly by e-mailing themselves to people listed in a user's address book without the user's knowledge.
The fourth way this update tightens security is by disabling all automatic scripting programs. This feature aims to stop Outlook from running any malicious code that might be contained in an e-mail attachment.
While Microsoft officials admit that this fix will limit some of the ease of use and functionality of Outlook's e-mail programs, it claims that most consumers will simply notice having to answer "Yes" or "No" to more warning dialogue boxes.
Microsoft has issued at least 15 security updates to its Outlook 97/98 and Outlook 2000 programs since January, 1999.
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