Microsoft Pulls the Plug on Office 2000. How Will This Affect Your System Security?

Guest writer Rick Robinette, one of my favorite Blogging buddies, explains why MS Office 2000 is poised to become a security risk.

You have heard it here, and on other blogs associated with “What’s On My PC…”“Keep your software up-to-date!” (to protect yourself from potential security vulnerabilities, or weaknesses).

But, what do you do when the software maker stops supporting a specific product version? The common sense approach is to upgrade; however, in some cases where economics (cost to upgrade) becomes a factor, the user will stick with the version that has economically worked for them.  A good example of this scenario are the people still using Microsoft Office 2000.

Office2000

I really do not know what the numbers of actual users (or businesses) are, but if you are a Microsoft Office 2000 user, be warned that the lifecycle for Microsoft Office 2000 comes to an end on July 14, 2009.

Microsoft initially retired “Mainstream Support” for Office 2000 in mid-2004; however, extended support (for critical updates, patches, and fixes) continue to be available until July 14, 2009.

To put this in perspective:

Office 2000 has been patched 15 times so far this year alone, 12 of which were labeled “critical,” Microsoft’s most serious threat ranking.

Just last week, Microsoft patched 10 bugs in PowerPoint 2000, the presentation maker in Office 2000.

[ Source: Computerworld ]

If you are connected to the internet (or any network for that matter) and are still using Office 2000, after July 14th, 2009, then you are at risk of being targeted for any future potential security vulnerabilities (i.e. hijacking).

In a sense, Microsoft Office 2000 will become a security vulnerability in itself and a potential avenue for bot infections, etc. It is advisable that you upgrade to a newer version of Microsoft Office, prior to July 14, 2009, to protect yourself and other users.

Free alternatives exist to replace Microsoft Office; perhaps the most popular is the outstanding open source application Open Office 3.1. Many software application reviewers consider Open Office to be the equal of MS Office in most respects.

For information on this excellent free suite of office tools, checkout OpenOffice.org for information and download links.

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

9 Comments

Filed under Application Vulnerabilities, Don't Get Hacked, Free Full Versions, Free Office Suites, Freeware, MS Word Alternatives, Online Safety, Open Office, Open Source, Productivity Software, Software, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

9 responses to “Microsoft Pulls the Plug on Office 2000. How Will This Affect Your System Security?

  1. Thanks Bill… You just made my day!

    Rick

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Rick,

      It’s always a pleasure to spotlight one of your well crafted articles.

      As we both know well, users are often not aware that applications, and not just the operating system, can present security risks. Thank you for pointing out the security risks that are now inherent in MS Office 2000.

      Bill

  2. ikd

    Unfortunately, for most MS users “keep your software up-to-date” also means “spend a lot of money for the next MS product” and try to adjust to the new version of the product (just look at the new MS Office 2007 interface).

    Oh, and did someone mention that doc IS NOT equal to docx?

    I.

    • Bill Mullins

      Yes IKD, you are right; most particularly concerning docx .

      Microsoft is well known for the shameless way in which it self promotes virtually all of its products, including planned obsolescence. We can be thankful, in this particular case, that the open source community offers a viable alternative to MS Office, with the highly regarded Open Office 3.1.

      The real point of the article though, is to help users understand that unsupported applications can be a serious security risk. This is not to suggest that supported application are substantially better in this respect, in my view. For those who think otherwise, I suggest reading the Qualys Consensus Security Vulnerability Alert, published weekly, which provides in-depth analysis of the latest vulnerabilities with straight forward remediation advice. This weekly list of application vulnerabilities is truly an eye opener.

      Thank you for your comment. Your points are well taken.

      Bill

  3. g

    i’m going to inform our it dept. maybe we can finally upgrade to 2003 lol

  4. I was surprised to see they still supported it, I was also surprised to learn they still support Windows 2000. Support for Win 2K ends next year. I have to admit I bought the Home/ Student version of Office 2007 for my kids and ended up loving it. Open Office though is a very good product and you can’t beat the price.
    Old software is a huge vector for malware, The Secunia Tool for checking for new versions of software is great tool for checking for vulnerabilities of this type.
    Cheers
    Mark

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Mark,

      Yes, the student version of Office 2007 is a great deal. I might have to go back to school just so I can qualify!

      The Secunia Tool is an absolute must to have on every machine.

      Bill

  5. Another point is that Office 2007 can be configured to use the old docs. format so you can fix this problem, PC Fixer will change this setting using the “tune up”option I believe.
    Radar Sync is another free program for checking for new versions of programs they have a paid program as well I haven’t tried.
    Regards
    Mark

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Mark,

      I use Office 2003 and I have no problems with docx using the plug-in from MS.

      I’ve heard about Radar Sync but haven’t had a chance to test drive it yet. Thanks for the reminder.

      Bill