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A “zero day” vulnerability is currently being exploited by attackers against Microsoft Office and other products. A “zero day” vulnerability means that a security hole exists in a product and there is currently no official patch or fix.

To put it another way – a “zero day” vulnerability means a computer or software package has a security problem with no immediate fix. It can be an easy attack vector for a malicious person. In plain English – a “zero day” means you could get hacked quite easily and you may not be able to defend against it.

In this Microsoft security bulletin, Microsoft explains how viewing a certain image could result in your computer being compromised. In theory this would be rather easy for an attacker to do – they could simply include the image in an email or on a website.

Take note, however, of this section of the bulletin:

“An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights.”

We always recommend that employees use their computers with the least privileges necessary, and this excerpt is an example why. If you fall victim to this attack and you are an administrator, the attacker is now also an administrator and has free reign on your computer.

If you or your employees are using the computer as a regular or limited user, however, and not an administrator – the attack will likely be very limited in scope. Any damage done by the attack would probably be minimal.

Our “Don’t be an administrator” support article goes into the details of being a user vs. an administrator. This vulnerability is an example of a trend that is only going to continue and the lesson is simple: limit your privileges to the minimum that are required.

This is one of the core steps to building a secure computing environment. Contact us if you would like to secure your business against these and other types of threats.