Important Security Patches for Outlook and Office

By Andrew Hogan, March 17, 2023

Dear Faculty and Staff,

This afternoon Ithaca College Windows computers will receive urgent security updates to Microsoft Office applications, including Outlook. No action is needed on your part, but we wanted to let you know in case you see a pop-up message from Microsoft saying that Office updates are being downloaded and installed.

How will this impact me?

If you are a Windows computer user and have any Microsoft Office applications open at the time of the updates, you will see a Microsoft pop-up message saying that updates are being downloaded and installed, which will generally take 3-5 minutes. Then your Microsoft Office applications will restart.

Any open documents or messages should re-open after the applications restart, and you should not lose any work. If you had unsaved files open before Office restarted, you may see an “unsaved recovered file” warning banner. You can save your document as normal. If no Office applications are open, the updates will install in the background. In either case, you may see a pop-up message afterward letting you know that Office was updated.

Why are these updates especially urgent?

All Office updates will be applied, including patches for two vulnerabilities of primary concern. One allows attackers to run arbitrary code (take over) a computer by emailing a specially-crafted rich text document, and the other allows password hashes to be divulged upon receipt of a specially crafted email message. The latter does not even require the message to be opened or previewed, which is extremely rare.

What about my home computer, Macintosh computers, phone, or tablet?

Only Windows computers are affected by the two vulnerabilities we’re especially concerned about, but it is important to regularly update all software on all computers, phones, and mobile devices. To update software from Microsoft on Windows, Apple on macOS and iOS, and Google on Android, do the following:

  • On Windows computers, type “check for updates” in the search menu.
  • On macOS computers running Monterey and older OSes, open the Apple menu, select About this Mac, and click Software Update.
  • On macOS computers running Ventura, open the Apple menu, select System Settings, then General, and Software Update.
  • On iOS devices, go to Settings, then General, and then choose Software Update.
  • On Android devices, go to the Google Play store, click the user icon on the top right, select Manage Apps and Device, and then click Update All.

Other applications each have their own update methods, and most are configured by default to update themselves. Please allow them to do so when prompted.

If you have any questions, please contact the Ithaca College Information Technology Service Desk via chat, email: or via phone: (607) 274-1000.  Thank you.

The information Technology Service Desk Team