Office 2003 bug locks users out of files

As posted on Technologizer, a bug has been reported by many companies using Microsoft Office 2003, causing protected files to become inaccessible. Microsoft's Rights Management Service, a technology used to control access to sensitive documents, was found to be locking files from use. When trying to open a document protected by RMS, users would receive an error telling them to contact their system administrator.

The bug was found to be present in Office 2003's Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word; Office 2007 and 2010 are in the clear. According to a Microsoft spokesperson, the bug was caused by an expired Information Rights Management (IRM) certificate. Microsoft has released hotfix for the bug and has posted it here.

RMS is a way for companies to encrypt and selectively limit access to documents and specific actions within them. Companies can use it to set usage rights and permissions through policies embedded directly into the files themselves. It can be used to decide what groups can decrypt them, under what conditions decryption is allowed to occur, whether a user is allowed to print, copy, edit, or do other actions within the files, and many other things. The technology is only usable with RMS-enabled applications, such as Office, SharePoint, and Internet Explorer.

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