RealTime IT News

New Web Virus Can Steal, Destroy Computer Files

A virus is reportedly making its way across the Web that uses Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet software to secretly steal or destroy data on computers.

According to published reports, the security flaw exploits Excel's ability to divide Web functions into frames. A hacker can use the flaw to plant malicious code that can be downloaded to computers when an infected Web site is accessed.

The code can be used to transit or erase spreadsheet files, word-processing documents or other data. Although Excel must be present on a computer's hard drive before the virus can act, it does not need to be running for it to start.

Finjan Inc., an Israeli computer security firm, is reportedly working on a fix to the problem, which is said to have been first discovered in Russia.

Microsoft Tuesday downplayed the reports, saying it sent out bulletins last month to warn that the Excel feature could be manipulated to distribute dangerous code. The company said it has already released its own patch that repairs the problem.

A Microsoft spokesman said the company has yet to receive any customer inquiries about the flaw.