Wednesday Dec 15, 2010

Oracle Office - for the desktop and for the cloud

Oracle just announced Oracle Open Office 3.3 and Oracle Cloud Office.

Oracle Open Office is Oracle's professional distribution of The differences are explained in the FAQs for Oracle Open Office.

Oracle Cloud Office is our brand new Web and mobile office suite!

Friday Aug 13, 2010

Speech recognition for Writer

Eventually, Nuance decided to add support for Writer to Dragon Naturally Speaking!

The current version 11 has support for dictation, correction, selection, and playback in Writer.

This is great news. People asked for a OOo speech recognition solution for a long time now.

Friday Mar 19, 2010

The Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office and the Excel issue after uninstalling or upgrading the Plugin

Many people complain about an issue they have with Excel after uninstalling or upgrading the Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office: When starting Excel, Excel complains that the Add-In odfaddin.xla can't be found: 'C:\\Program Files\\Sun\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office <old version>\\converter\\odfaddin.xla' could not be found. (...)

I would like to point out that this is not an issue from the ODF Plugin installer, but in Excel itself:

The ODF Plugin installer writes some HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE entries into the registry to activate the Plugin, and these entries are removed when uninstalling the Plugin, or point to the correct version when doing an upgrade installation. But for some reason, Excel will put a reference to the Add-In file odfaddin.xla into the user's configuration (HKEY_CURRENT_USER) when starting Excel after the ODF Plugin installation. This entry - of course - won't be removed from the installer when uninstalling the ODF Plugin.

So to get rid of the annoying error message, you need to remove that reference yourself:

In Office 2007, use Microsoft Office Button => Excel Options => Add-Ins => Manage Excel Add-ins (Go...) => uncheck "Odfaddin". In older versions, use Tools => Add-Ins => uncheck "Odfaddin"

If it doesn't work (which seems to happen at least in Office 2007 after upgrading the ODF Plugin), remove the reference to the old Add-In in the registry directly: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\\Microsoft\\Office\\<version>\\Excel\\Options => "OPEN"="\\"C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Sun\\\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office <old version>\\\\converter\\\\odfaddin.xla\\""

In more detail - this happens in the different phases when installing the ODF Plugin, running Excel and then uninstalling or upgrading the ODF Plugin:

Step 1: Installing the ODF Plugin:


  + [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\Classes\\CLSID\\{16A1C170-D2C8-423B-AEC6-BAD7A26F1828}\\InprocServer32]
  + @="C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Sun\\\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office 3.1\\\\converter\\\\odfaddin.dll"

  + [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\Microsoft\\Office\\Excel\\Addins\\ODFAddIn.Connect]
  + "Description"="Load and save files in OASIS OpenDocument format"
  + "FriendlyName"="ODF Add-in"
  + "LoadBehavior"=dword:00000003 
Step 2: Starting Excel (now Excel creates the entry that leads to the problem):


  + [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\\Microsoft\\Office\\12.0\\Excel\\Options]
  + "OPEN"="\\"C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Sun\\\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office 3.1\\\\converter\\\\odfaddin.xla\\""
Step 3a: Uninstalling the ODF Plugin (all entries written by the installer are being removed): 


  - [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\Classes\\CLSID\\{16A1C170-D2C8-423B-AEC6-BAD7A26F1828}\\InprocServer32]
  - @="C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Sun\\\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office 3.1\\\\converter\\\\odfaddin.dll"

  - [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\Microsoft\\Office\\Excel\\Addins\\ODFAddIn.Connect]
  - "Description"="Load and save files in OASIS OpenDocument format"
  - "FriendlyName"="ODF Add-in"
  - "LoadBehavior"=dword:00000003

  still there (of course!):
  "OPEN"="\\"C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Sun\\\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office 3.1\\\\converter\\\\odfaddin.xla\\""
Step 3b: Upgrading the ODF Plugin, instead of uninstalling:

  - @="C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Sun\\\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office 3.1\\\\converter\\\\odfaddin.dll"
  + @="C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Sun\\\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office 3.2\\\\converter\\\\odfaddin.dll" 


  still there (of course!):
  "OPEN"="\\"C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Sun\\\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office 3.1\\\\converter\\\\odfaddin.xla\\""

So if Excel has a reference to the Add-In, Excel should probably simply disable the Add-In when it doesn't exist anymore, instead of complaining over and over again. Or at least ask the user whether or not to keep the entry...

Wednesday Feb 17, 2010 and Solaris 10 listed in eWEEK's Top 25 Technologies Of The Decade

eWEEK names 25 products, applications and technologies of the last decade that have changed the way we work, play and live.

Among them: and Solaris 10.

Friday Feb 12, 2010 3.2 available - a highly recommended update

Eventually, 3.2 is available for download.

This update is highly recommended, not only because of the many security fixes and security feature improvements, but also because of some noticeable performance improvements.

As always, make sure to only download from trusted sources, like The reason is explained here.

Thursday Nov 12, 2009

Odt2DAISY - create DAISY Digital Talking Books with!

Vincent Spiewak has finished his extension for converting ODF text documents to DAISY Digital Talking Books - you can find the press release here.

The extension not only creates XML content, but also can make use of different text to speech engines, so you will have fully featured talking books.

I recommend this extension for everybody who wants to create DAISY books. Binaries and source files are available on sourceforge, the license is LGPL 3.

If you never heard of DAISY before, you might want to look at the screen casts which will show you how it works.

Thank you very much for this great extension!

Wednesday Sep 16, 2009

Security and Privacy Feature Improvements in upcoming 3.2

I had commented on the Black Hat 2009 OOo Security Paper some time ago.

There have been some points which could be clarified directly, or where I didn't agree on, but there also have been some valid points, where I promised that we would try to address them in OOo 3.2 – what we did.

Issues listed in the article, where improvements to OOo had been necessary

Issue: Encrypted documents - Macros can be added, replaced or removed

Update: In OOo 3.2, you can't anymore add unencrypted macro streams, or replaces existing streams with different (unencrypted) versions.

For compatibility reasons, this check is only done for ODF 1.2 documents written with OOo 3.0 or newer. But OOo won't rely on the ODF version listed in manifest.xml alone, and will also check the version listed in the encrypted content.xml, so people manipulating the document can't circumvent the check by manipulating (downgrading) the ODF version in manifest.xml.

You still can remove all macros streams together, because we still can't protect manifest.xml. Fixing this would need further enhancements to ODF, since we don't want to create an OOo only solution, which would result in OOo complaining about all encrypted documents written with other applications.

Another thing is that you can add encrypted macro streams, but this won't have any effect. The reason is that macro streams can have different encryption keys, because the user can give each basic library an other password. But adding encrypted macro streams doesn't matter, because OOo wouldn't be able to decrypt them, and they also can't be registered in the basic library, because that file is also encrypted.

To resolve the remaining (and probably minor) issue that macro streams can be removed in encrypted documents, different options need to be evaluated very carefully: This can be the protection of the manifest.xml via some signature algorithm, or the encryption of the complete ODF zip stream. That later solution could also be wrapped in an ODF container, so you have a mimetime stream for better system integration, and a place where you can document which encryption algorithms have been used.

Explaining these options and the advantages and disadvantages would be to much for this article – if you are interested in working on this with us, please join the Security Project. Let's discuss the ideas on the Security Project's mailing list, where you should subscribe in advance, because replies normally only make it to the list.

Issue: It is worth mentioning that the META-INF/manifest.xml and META-INF/documentsignatures.xml themselves are not signed

Update: We changed the ODF 1.2 spec (that is the version where digital signatures are covered for the first time). The definition for document signatures now states that all streams in the ODF package, including manifest.xml, must be covered by the document signatures. The only exception is that the signature stream itself might be excluded.

In OOo 3.2, the manifest.xml is part of the document signature now.

Issue: Attacker can add non declared file (in particular one or more malicious macros)

Update: As I already said in my initial comments, it doesn't change much for security whether or not the file is declared in manifest.xml, because manifest.xml could also be updated very easily.

But because it's good practice to make sure that all files are declared in manifest.xml, OOo 3.2 will make this check for ODF 1.2 documents. The ODF 1.2 specification will also state more clearly that all files need to be registered in manifest.xml.

Because older versions of OOo already registered all files in manifest.xml, it might be worth discussing if this check could/should also be done for older documents.

Issue: Let us consider then the case which consists in replacing an encrypted macro with a plaintext (malicious) macro.

Update: As already explained in the first issue above, OOo won't except any not encrypted streams in encrypted documents anymore, independent from the ODF version used in the document.

Further improvements in OOo 3.2 and/or the ODF 1.2 specification

ODF 1.2 now allows for using different encryption algorithms, and all details about the algorithms used need to be documented in the manifest.xml (which is the reason that the manifest.xml itself can't be encrypted). These ODF enhancements have been submitted to the OASIS ODF TC, and OOo 3.2 already implements them. Please note that this only means OOo would put all needed information into manifest.xml. It doesn't mean that OOo would have new built-in encryption algorithms yet.

For other things in the loop, see the Security Project's Wiki pages.

That's great - but I can't find any download for 3.2

OOo 3.2 is not final now – expect the final version to be available end of November.

And please make sure to only download from trusted sources, like The reason is explained here.

Friday Sep 11, 2009

Big Win for ODF

IBM asks all their employees  to stop using Microsoft Office, and completely switch to Lotus Symphony - IBM's office suite which is based on 1.1.

The important thing here is not that all employees should use IBM software, which you would expect anyway (eat your own dog food). The important thing is that the main goal with this is to completely switch to the OpenDocument Format (aka ODF) - the free and open standard for office documents.

I guess this might have some signaling effect for many other companies - ODF is the broadly accepted free and open standard for office documents. Most people wouldn't consider Microsoft's OOXML format as an alternative, and meanwhile almost everyone knows that it's important to migrate away from Microsoft's binary document format - to ease further document processing, to make sure that you will still be able to read you documents in many years, and to avoid further vendor lock-ins.

Right now I could only find German news articles about this, but I am sure English articles will show up later this day.

Thursday May 07, 2009 3.1 released - download the genuine and FREE version now!

The final version of 3.1 is available for download now!

A lot of new features and improvements make it really worth updating to this new version.

Important: Make sure to download genuine from a trusted site!

Almost daily, the Security Team receives mails from people who downloaded from commercial sites and had to charge for that in advance, or are asked for some kind of key or serial number when they want to install.

Selling is allowed, and is fine as long as you get some extra service, like a CD, printed handbook or support. Unfortunately, some people and companies try to make easy money with, without providing any extras, and these download sites are often in the first hits when searching for OOo downloads.

If you are not sure whether or not a download site can be trusted, simply use is very easy to remember, and mirrors make sure that you don't have to care about optimal download locations yourself.

Thursday Apr 30, 2009

Using the Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office with Office 2007 SP2

ODF is now nativity supported if MS Office 2007 with Service Pack 2.

Nevertheless, people asked if it would still be possible to use the Sun ODF Plugin also in Office 2007 SP2, because the ODF quality might be better.

I just gave the final version of SP2 a try, but only to verify that the Sun ODF Plugin still can be used. My intention was not to figure out how good the native ODF filters in SP2 are.

OK, I must admit that I couldn't resist to quickly figure out what would happen with tables in presentation, because I know that SP2 only implements ODF 1.0.

Tables in presentations got specified in ODF 1.2, same holds true for formulas in spreadsheets. As expected, you might want to continue using the Sun ODF Plugin if you need these features.

If you want to use the Sun ODF Plugin for ODF documents, instead of he new built-in filters:

  • Don't open documents via the Windows explorer. You must use the file picker in MS Office
  • In Word, make sure to use the filter "ODF Text Document (\*.odt;\*.ott)"
  • In Excel and PowerPoint, use the "Export ODF" menu or tool bar items

In Excel and PowerPoint, using the new built-in filters is more convenient, because you can simply use open/save, instead of the extra UI. But the fact that the filter in Excel doesn't support formulas let me think that this filter is quite unusable for most users... (Don't get fooled when testing it: Formulas written with Excel will work when loading the same ODF file in Excel, because the information about the formulas is preserved with the help of some MS Office specific XML tags, which no other ODF application will recognize)

Alternatively, now that you are interest in ODF, you might want to give a try, in case you not already did so...

Update on my Black Hat 2009 OOo Security comments

I have to correct something that I just wrote in my Black Hat 2009 OOo Security comments.

My colleague who is working on the encryption stuff just pointed me to the fact that we have fixed the bug with macros in encrypted documents sometimes not being encrypted, but that we don't show the warning  that I mentioned. Reason was (again) the compatibility thing.

I am really sorry for my false statement about this, and that the attack described in the paper (replacing encrypted macros with plain text macros) still works in OOo 3.0 and 3.1.

I will do my best that we change this in the upcoming OOo 3.2 version, and show the warning as promised...

Comments on the Black Hat 2009 OOo Security Briefing

Here are my comments on the white paper: OpenOffice v3.x Security Design Weaknesses, Eric Filiol and Jean-Paul Fizaine.

Statements (not quotes) from the article are marked with an italic font. For the original text please refer to the publicly available paper.

Chapter 1 - Introduction

      Some reference to issues described in “In-depth analysis of the viral threats with documents”

The listed GUI manipulations and macros in user space are not in the focus of this new article, so I just want to point to to my comments on that article in my blog.

      Unencrypted, plain documents don't have integrity control, files can be added, including executable (macro) code

Well, ODF is an open standard, so any kind of integrity check would also be well documented. Other ODF application must be able to implement them, so also malicious software knows how the checks look like. And: (proprietary) binary file formats are no more secure - they just make it more difficult (security by obscurity).

In the end, it doesn't matter: If someone adds a macro, OOo will warn, and ask if the user really wants to execute it (which he shouldn't do with documents he can't trust). If the extra content is some executable, it doesn't matter for OOo, since it will be ignored.

      Encrypted documents: Macros can be added, replaced or removed

In OOo 3.0, it's no longer possible to add or replace macros in encrypted documents. When a document is encrypted, all content streams must be encrypted, all with the same key.

Unfortunately OOo only shows a warning for not encrypted streams for ODF 1.2 documents. For compatibility/legacy reasons it's not shown for older documents. We already work on changing this for OOo 3.2, since we recognized that security should have had a higher priority over compatibility here.

[UPDATE: I was mistaken that we actually would show this warning. It's still possible to replace encrypted macros with plain text macros.]

Macros can still be removed in encrypted documents. This can't do any harm, but I agree that this might look a little bit strange for the user, since he believes this shouldn't be possible in an encrypted document.

In the team that is working on OOo 3.2 security improvements, we discussed possible solutions here. I understand that Mr. Filiol is in favor of encrypting the manifest.xml, but this can't be done, because the used encryption/hash algorithms are described there, and the ODF application need to be able to read that. (You should also recognize that ODF 1.2 will allow for using different encryption algorithms, because different countries or companies might have different accepted/allowed/approved algorithms).

Our current idea is to create a hash of the manifest.xml in a separate stream, which is encrypted with the same key like the rest of the document. OOo would then warn when the hash is broken or doesn't exist. This need some more discussion on how to explain the warning to the user, because OOo would warn for all older (encrypted) documents, and documents written with other ODF applications. The user probably will need an option to disable this warning for old documents.

Additionally, we plan to warn when some stream in the archive is not listed in the manifest.xml. The ODF specification already states that only content listed in the manifest.xml is relevant for the ODF document, so this should be fine (in opposite to the encrypted hash value of manifest.xml, which probably needs to be specified there).

      It's possible to remove the digital signature

Fine for me – can be done via OOo GUI as well, and I don't see the issue here.

(In OOo 3.2, it shouldn't be possible anymore with encrypted documents)

Chapter 2 – ODF Format and Security Features

     ZIP and ODF Format and Manipulation Tools

There are many hints on how to prove that ODF files are using zip containers – nobody ever said it would be different. I especially like the hint to the project: “goal is to provide a set of tools to directly and transparently handle and manipulate the OpenDocument format”.

In the context of this paper it sounds like this would become a tool for doing evil things – manipulating ODF documents. Actually, the whole purpose of an open standard is that different kind of tools can make use of it. So it's worth mentioning that the project actually was started from people in our team here in Hamburg. To make ODF adoption easier for other projects.

     Macro location – simple text manipulation of these files would allow to dramatically change the security status of the document

Sure: The intention of macros is that macro authors can do powerful things. Good things as well as evil things. And it doesn't matter which tool I use to create them.

People never should run macros if they are not sure that they can trust them. Full stop.

     Document encryption: It is very surprising to notice that the manifest.xml file is not encrypted

Well, I don't find this surprising, because, as I wrote earlier in this article, it contains necessary information for the ODF application about how to handle the encryption.

And as I also stated there, that we think about introducing an encrypted hash value for the manifest.xml, so it can't be manipulated anymore. The other information contained in manifest.xml is not worth hiding, because that information (mainly the stream names) is also contained in the Zip header itself.

     Digital Signatures of documents

     The information with respect to the signature are located in an additional file which is not the manifest.xml

Actually the signature stream is listed in the manifest.xml. Or was this statement about the signature not being stored in the manifest.xml directly?

     It is worth mentioning that the META-INF/manifest.xml and META-INF/- documentsignatures.xml themselves are not signed

Signing the manifest.xml is on our list for OOo 3.2. Please note that this will introduce the limitation that macro signatures can't be introduced after the document was signed, because this would need manipulation of the (then) signed manifest.xml.

I am not sure about the part with regard to signing the signature file itself. Signing the full file wouldn't be possible, because additional signatures would be stored in the same file, breaking the first signature. Needs more thinking/discussions.

     The digital signature relies on the XML-DSIG norm. However, it is itself not standardized in the OpenDocument format release 1.2 (at the present time no more information is available and the only reference is the version 1.1) yet

Please note the the specification for digital signatures has been integrated into OpenDocument-v1.2-draft6.odt (September 2007). The most current version of the ODF 1.2 specification is the Committee Draft 01-rev06.

     All the aspects related to signature (see page 31 in the paper) could be interesting for any malware which would operate directly in memory and could thus manipulate the signature during its production

Well, if you already have suspicious code running in memory, your system is already compromised and you can't rely on anything in your system anymore. You can read about my opinion about the primo infection issue here.

     Digital signatures combined with encryption: The signature file itself it not encrypted

I recently discussed this with different people. There are advantages and disadvantages in encrypting this file. It depends on your use case. In the end, this can become a privacy issue, but from my point of view, not a security or integrity issue.

     Signature and macros: The document signatures includes all streams, while the macro signature doesn't include the document streams. The document is not protected, being a major design weakness

I strongly disagree, since this works exactly as designed! Companies tend to do a lot of complex things with macros. Very often, these macros reside in templates. People use the templates and fill in some data into the document. If the macro signatures would include the document content, macro signatures would become invalid in the moment the user enters some data. With the current approach, the macro signatures will stay valid in this case. You should also notice that macro signatures have a different meaning than document signatures. They explicitly only sign the macros, not the document, and the document will not show up as a signed document. The macro signatures make sure that macros are not altered, and can be used for macro trust decisions.

     With document signatures, the whole document content is signed, including existing macros. This is a significant evolution since in OpenOffice 2.x, macros themselves were not signed. As a consequence, attacks identified earlier are no longer working, at least directly

Right. It was a wrong decision to only sign the document content with the document signature. Now the macro streams (and all other streams in the zip archive except in META-INF folder) are part of the signature. Please note that this is only for integrity checks – the macros signed with a document signature are not handled as signed macros.

Chapter 3 – Viral Attacks Through Plain OpenOffice Documents

     Simple archive manipulations (using zip/unzip utility and a simple text editor) enable to perform a lot of attacks. If we intend to modify the document payload itself (the document visible text), the principle consists in modifying the information contained within the suitable tags

Well....yes? I really wonder why people should be confused about this.

The ODF standard is defined as an open standard – not bound to certain applications. This means any application is eligible to implement ODF. Most users will use authoring tools like for creating ODF documents. But it's totally OK to use scripts which do automatic ODF/XML processing, or even using stone old VI, where the ODF logic needs to be in the authors head, because VI can only help in plain text file manipulation.

So the scenario described above is absolutely valid and welcome.

     Since no integrity check is performed, the modification remains unnoticed by the user

All kind of integrity checks would rely on hashes. Since the calculation of the hashes would be well documented in the ODF specification, and algorithms would be implemented in many open source projects, it wouldn't make it much harder for malicious code to do not recognized document manipulations. Hashes only help when you can encrypt them – this is exactly what digital signatures are good for.

     Attacker can add non declared file (in particular one or more malicious macros)

With OOo 3.2, the files will need to be declared in the manifest.xml, but that doesn't change much. For macros this is not really an issue, since they are not signed then, and shouldn't be trusted/executed. OOo will show a warning when loading the document.

Interesting is the part “It is possible to insert stolen data into an file”. (Side note: Why do people call them OOo files so often?! Please recognize that they are ODF files, and there are many ODF capable applications out there).

It's true that you could put any (stolen) content into the document's zip container, but you also can do it by attaching the data to PDF documents, where nobody would expect anything like this when forwarding the file to other people. And you probably can do the same thing with many many other file formats.

The issue here is – again, not the file format or the application, but the circumstance that you already have malicious code running on your system! This code can do anything with the current user's access rights, and there are many more interesting/efficient attacks than controlling an office application.

For the part “attackers can do macro substitution (replace macros with other malicious macros)”:

As I already said – macros which are not signed shouldn't be trusted/executed.

     Any XML compliant modification will remain undetected...

I guess this is already answered...

Chapter 4 – Viral Attacks Through Encrypted OpenOffice Documents

I must admit that I don't understand what chapter 4.1 is trying to demonstrate. The text doesn't mention what kind of document/macro manipulations has been done in the “successful case”. The differences they list (directory names in the zip header) don't mean anything to ODF and the signatures. I can only assume that they used some old documents in their tests. As I stated earlier, some checks are currently only done for ODF 1.2 documents (for compatibility reasons), and starting with OOo 3.2 we plan to do the same tests and warnings also for older documents.

     Let us consider then the case which consists in replacing an encrypted macro with a plaintext (malicious) macro.

This attack doesn't work anymore with OOo 3.0 and ODF 1.2 documents. Again – same checks for older documents to be introduced in OOo 3.2. I am really sorry we didn't do it from the beginning, “just” for document compatibility reasons.

Chapter 5 – Viral Attacks Through Digitally Signed OpenOffice Documents

     Since critical files are not encrypted and especially there is no external secure management of digital signature keys and certificate (use of PKI), it is dramatically easy to forge fake X509 certificate and play man-in-the-middle attacks.

First, I would like to clarify that OOo actually makes use of PKI.

On Windows, the Microsoft Cryptography API is used, and the certificate management and tools are the same like for all other Windows applications. On other platforms, OOo relies on NSS, which means that the certificates are managed via Mozilla Thunderbird, Firefox or Mozilla/SeaMonkey.

In the paper we see an example that someone could collect personal data of “Alice” somehow, and create a self signed certificate using most of the data, to make it look “genuine”. Bob then receives a document which seems to be signed by Alice, and Bob doesn't understand PKI and lets himself being fooled by simply reading the Name “Alice”. He is not checking the public key...

I agree that there are probably many people out there who don't know much about public key certificates and PKI. They don't understand that self signed certificates are worth almost nothing, and that they would need to check the public key somehow.

But actually, OOo 3.0 tells the user when a certificate can't be validated, which is always the case with self signed certificates. It seems that the screen shots in the paper have been done with an old version of OOo. OOo 3.x versions would show an exclamation mark in the signature sign. In the status bar as well as in the certificate dialogs.

Screen shots to show how it looks like in OOo 3.x:

- using a self signed certificate, document window
- using a self signed certificate, signatures dialog
- using a self signed certificate, certificate viewer, general page
- using a self signed certificate, certificate viewer, certification path

Please note that the document is not marked as “(Signed)” in the document window caption, and also note the exclamation mark in all symbols. All dialogs tell the user that the certificate could not be validated. So people should be aware that something could be very wrong.

Instead, they should only trust in certificates signed by some certificate authorities, with corresponding root and intermediate certificates existing in their system:

- using a good certificate, document window
- using a good certificate, signatures dialog
- using a good certificate, certificate viewer, general page
- using a good certificate, certificate viewer, certification path

Looks much more trustworthy to the user, doesn't it?

Chapter 6 – Conclusion: Enhancing OpenOffice Security

My conclusion is that OOo/ODF security doesn't look that bad like stated in the paper.

And with OOo 3.2 there should be some more improvements, as mentioned in different places in this article. Please note that I can't make promises about what things will really make it into OOo 3.2. We are working on it...

The idea in the paper about a special OOo version (“Trusted OOo”) is interesting, but would mean to create an isle. That special version would warn every time you load a document which was created/modified with vanilla OOo or any other ODF application. The extra information in the documents would be lost once edited with some other application.

With regard to allowing administrators to configure security options: This is already possible. Simply change the configuration in the office installation fitting your needs, and mark the configuration items as final. Then the user can't change or overwrite them in the user configuration via UI or direct XML manipulation. And of course you need to make sure that normal users can't write to the location where OOo is installed.

I think I don't have to comment on “closing (security related) parts of OOo”. Beside the fact that it's not an option, would proprietary software make attacks only more difficult, but not impossible.

Comments welcome...

Friday Dec 12, 2008

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 finalized

WCAG 2.0 was published today as a final Web Standard "W3C Recommendation"!

This is great, since many people were waiting for that for a long time now. The first version of WCAG was published in 1999 - it mainly concentrated on HTML and absolutly didn't meet current requirements anymore. The old standard didn't allow scripting, so all Web 2.0 applications would violate that. Now scripting is not only accepted, but even included as techniques to enhance accessibility!

If you are interested in this topic (and as a web designer, author or developer you should care!), I think the best starting page is The WCAG 2.0 Documents.

Thursday Oct 02, 2008

odt2dtbook - a DAISY export extension for

If you are interested in DAISY export, this extension for might be your friend. 

Vincent Spiewak and Dominique Archambault won Gold for their work on this extension, as part of the Innovation in Open Source Community Award Program.

Congratulations! :)

Friday May 30, 2008 3.0 on Mac OSX Accessibility

Our engineers here in Hamburg are spending a lot of efforts into the native port of for the Mac platform.

One part of these efforts is to implement the Mac Accessibility APIs, to make OOo as accessible as possible with AT tools.

My colleague Peter Korn just wrote a very good blog about this, so instead of duplication all the information, I recommend reading that one if you are interested in the details.

Wednesday Mar 26, 2008

Document Freedom Day

Today is Document Freedom Day

This is great. And because it is about open document standards, it's mainly about ... yes, the Open Document Format (ODF), as you can read at the Document Standards page.


Monday Jan 14, 2008

Nice ODF article

I just stumbled over the article  "Dispelling Myths Around ODF" from Erwin.

Really worth reading, IMHO...



Tuesday Oct 02, 2007

Sun ODF Plugin 1.1 for Microsoft Office available now!

The newest version of our ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office is available, you can find it here.

We have fixed the installation problem that occurred on some systems, and have made many improvements to the filters.

The biggest difference compared to 1.0 is that we have support for different languages now!

It's still just one package to download and install, but the Plugin will detect the languages from your MS Office and your Windows installation. When support for that language is available, the Plugin UI within MS Office will use you current MS Office language, while the menus and dialogs in the system tray use the language from your operating system. If your language is not supported, the fall back is English.

Thursday Aug 23, 2007

Some facts about the development of ODF

I just stumbled over a quite new blog entry from my colleague Erwin - a really good one, I think!

It clarifies some things about the development process of ODF.

Read it, and I am sure after that you will also ask yourself why Microsoft started it's own XML document format, instead of simply participating in the development of ODF...




Wednesday Jul 04, 2007

Sun ODF Plugin 1.0 for Microsoft Office FAQ

OK, the Sun ODF Plugin is now available, and people have some questions...


Q: What's the difference between this release and the "Technology Preview" version of the Plugin?

A: There are 3 big differences between these versions:

  • This version does not only support Word, but also Excel and PowerPoint!
  • This version not only supports MS Office 2003, but also MS Office 2000 and MS Office XP.
  • We collected feedback on the conversion quality and made some improvements here.


Q: Why doesn't it support Office 2007?

A: Well, basically, it does, but there is an issue in Word's 2007 Filter API handling. You can save to ODF, but when you try to open ODF, Word ignores the installed filters and tries to open with it's own filters. Of course Word can't, so you get an error message "The Office Open XML file <name> cannot be opened because there are problems with the content". This even happens if you explicitly select the ODF filter! I hope Microsoft will fix this issue with the next service pack. If not, we will work around this bug by doing the same kind of integration like in PowerPoint and Excel.


Q: Is it really free?

A: Yes, it is! Of course, if you desire - Sun is also offering Support and Service contracts for this. It's a Sun product, and as such, we will actively support and maintain it for many years.


Q: What about localized versions?

A: We are just working on a localized version. The plan is to have only one MUI (Multi User Interface) version, which will detect and use the language that you are using in MS Office.


Q: What's the difference between the Sun Plugin and the "OpenXML/ODF Translator" on ?

A:  There are many..

  • Only the Sun Plugin has this neat integration into Word. It's just an other filter, and when you open some ODF file, you really work with the ODF file, which means you can save your modifications by pressing Ctrl+S. You can even configure Word to make ODF your default file format!
  • Conversion is done with StarOffice code, using it's proven and high quality filters. The other Plugin is developed from scratch, using XSLT, and there are things that can't be transformed with XSLT, because you need information about the computed layout
  • The Sun Plugin doesn't have other pre-requirements.  Just download and install, no need to install additional things like the "Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack", ".NET Framework" and hot fixes.

Tuesday Jul 03, 2007

Sun ODF Plugin 1.0 for Microsoft Office available now!

The Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office enables users of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint to read and write documents in the ISO-standard Open Document Format (ODF).

Supported versions are Microsoft Office 2000, XP and 2003.

Read the spotlight on, or simply download it and give it a try. It's free, no registration needed!



Thursday May 03, 2007 port for Mac OS X

Sun is now officially joining the porting efforts for on Mac/Aqua.

This is really great news!

Some of our StarOffice/ developers here in Hamburg already helped on the port in the past.

They answered many how-to questions on the mailing lists, and they also helped with code contributions so that the Mac porting project could make faster progress.

But now some of our team are joining these porting efforts full time!

More details can be found on GullFOSS, the group blog from our team.




Malte Timmermann


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