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Microsoft Publishes Office Symbols to Improve Bug Hunting

Microsoft Office has started publishing Office symbols for Windows in an effort to help bug hunters find and report security issues.

Symbols are pieces of information used during debugging, and are contained within Symbol files, which are created by the compiler during application build.

Microsoft Office has started publishing Office symbols for Windows in an effort to help bug hunters find and report security issues.

Symbols are pieces of information used during debugging, and are contained within Symbol files, which are created by the compiler during application build.

Some of these symbols are called ‘public symbols’. They contain basic information, such as function names and global variables, and are used in all forms of debugging. Symbol files that contain only public symbols are called ‘stripped symbol files’.

Starting August 9, Microsoft Office is publishing stripped symbol files via the Microsoft Public Symbol Server, to provide security researchers with additional information when hunting for bugs in Office products, and to help them create more detailed reports.

“Symbols empower customers and partners to better understand and potentially diagnose issues they’re encountering. They also open the door for the development of more advanced performance tools and insights,” Microsoft says.

According to the tech giant, Office symbols can be used by hardware and software vendors for diagnostics purposes, as well as by performance test suites, to deliver more tailored performance reporting.

Microsoft starts with the publishing of Office symbols for the following builds: Current Channel/July Fork Build 16.0.15601.20037/ Version 2208 and Beta Channel/DevMain Build 16.0.15606.20000/ Version 2209.

The company says it will publish new symbols on a continuing basis, as new builds are released.

“Microsoft makes certain symbols, binary code, and other executables available via the Microsoft Symbol Server for use in debugging and testing of the user’s software in connection with Microsoft software, and not for any unauthorized use,” the tech giant notes.

Related: Microsoft Introduces New Security Update Notifications

Related: Microsoft Office Zero-Day Hit in Targeted Attacks

Related: Microsoft Informs Users of High-Severity Vulnerability in Azure AD

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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