Outlook Email Security Update

Last reviewed on December 9, 2012

The Outlook Email Security Update for Outlook 98 and Outlook 2000 disables many of the features that allow viruses to spread quickly. The security update is also integrated into Office 2000 Service Pack 2. Newer versions of Outlook have the features built in, with one major change — users can modify the list of blocked attachments.

Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010 allow end-users (or administrators) to better control the security.

To find out whether your copy of Outlook includes the security update, you can check the version number with the Help | About Microsoft Outlook command and compare it with this chart, which lists the versions with the security update:

Outlook 97Not applicable, since the security update is not available for Outlook 97
Outlook 98Version 8.5.7806 and later
Outlook 2000Version 9.0.0.4201 and later
Outlook 2002All versions (10.0.x.x)
Outlook 2003All versions (11.0.x.x)
Outlook 2007All versions (12.0.x.x)
Outlook 2010All versions (14.0.x.x)
Outlook 2013All versions (15.0.x.x)

The update makes it difficult, if not impossible, to open program files in Outlook — including VBScript .vbs files like those that spread Loveletter. It is also aimed at making it more difficult for a virus to use Outlook to transmit itself via e-mail. This aspect of the patch, however, means that some Outlook features will no longer function at all. In other cases, a user may need to authorize access by outside programs, such as bulk mail applications.

Microsoft has provided two ways to customize the security settings in older versions:

Basic Facts and Download | Should you install this patch? | Removing the Patch | Attachment Security | Automation Security | Outlook Forms Security | Outlook Security Zone | Other Changes | Known Problems | More Information

Basic Facts and Download

 

Outlook 2002

Outlook 2000

Note that you must install the Office Service Release 1 update before installing the securitiy update.

Related Updates for Outlook 2000 SR-1

Outlook 98

Should you install this patch?

Proceed with caution. Removing the patch on Outlook 2000 is no easy matter.

Normal standalone usersIf you don’t automate Outlook with code, this patch may be a good tradeoff between additional security and the inconvenience you might suffer in having to click the warning when you synchronize with a PDA. If you use Outlook 98 and various Outlook add-ins, check with your add-in vendor to find out whether you should Install the Outlook 98 Email Security Update with CDO in order to keep the CDO (Collaboration Data Objects) component.
Power usersIf you automate Outlook with code or use various Outlook add-ins, you will not want to install this patch until you evaluate its possible effects on your add-ins and code. See Applications Affected by the Outlook Email Security Update.
Net Folders usersIf you depend on Outlook Net Folders to share information, this patch may make that slightly feature less convenient to use, because it pops up a dialog when you share a new folder. However, contrary to the initial information from Microsoft, the notes for the release version indicate that the Net Folders feature should continue to work. Therefore, you can generally follow the recommendations for normal and power users above.
Exchange Server and HP OpenMail administrators in  Outlook environmentsThe administrative featureswill make this patch acceptable in some cases. However, we still recommend that you carefully evaluate whether to roll out this patch. It could potentially affect both mission-critical Outlook add-ins and ad hoc, undocumented applications created by individual users. While you can relax some or all of the patch’s restrictions for individuals or groups of users (see Customizing the Outlook 98/2000 E-mail Security Update), you will want to plan your security groups and settings very carefully.Also, you may want to consider Installing the Outlook 98 Email Security Update with CDO in order to keep the CDO (Collaboration Data Objects) component that many in-house Outlook forms and applications use.
Other corporate mail administratorsWe do not recommend installing the patch in non-Exchange Server corporate mail environments until you evaluate its possible effects on mission-critical Outlook add-ins and ad hoc, undocumented applications created by individual users. Microsoft has provided information to Lotus and Novell Groupwise so that they can develop administrative tools comparable to those provided by Microsoft for Exchange Server and HP OpenMail.

Removing the Patch

Outlook 2002

Outlook 2000

  • You must remove Outlook and perform a complete reinstall. If you installed Outlook as part of Office 2000, you must remove Office 2000 completely — not just the Outlook components — and reinstall Office. See OFF2000 How to Completely Remove Office CD1 on Windows 2000 and OFF2000 Utility to Completely Remove Remaining Office CD1 Files and Registry Entries.
  • Interestingly, several people on the newsgroups have reported good results from just replacing two Outlook application files with the corresponding files from the original Office CD or Office 2000 SR-1. (SR-1 probably would be better — you could copy them before you run the SP2 update.) The two files are Outllib.dll from the Office folder and Outllibr.dll from the Office\1033 folder. This is an unsupported method and probably does not fix all the aspects of the patch, however. It may also cause other problems on your system. Implement at your own risk.

Outlook 98

  • Use Control Panel | Add/Remove Programs to remove the patch and automatically reinstall the necessary original Outlook 98 components. If you installed Outlook 98 from CD, it’s a quick, painless process. If you installed Outlook 98 via the web, you may have to connect to the Internet to complete the reinstallation process.

Attachment Security

Systems with the security update for Outlook 2000 and 98 or with Outlook 2002 will no longer be able to open or save the files listed below if they are attached to an Outlook message. The attachments will still be in the messages, and other programs or Outlook add-ins may be able to access them, but they will be invisible to Outlook itself.

In addition to these “Level 1″ attachments, as Microsoft calls them, the patch also supports a “Level 2″ list, which warns users when they try to open a file attached to a message. End users with Outlook 2002 or Office 2000 SP3 can demote a file type from Level 1 to Level 2. Only administrators in an Exchange Server environment can customize the Level 2 list.

If you don’t have Outlook 2002 or Office 2000 SP3, there are many ways to open these “dangerous” files. See Opening .exe Attachments with the Microsoft Outlook E-mail Security Patch.

Users will also see a warning if they try to send an e-mail message that contains any Level 1 file attachment. However, the attachment is not actually stripped. If the receiving user is not running Outlook with the security patch, they will see the attachment as they normally do.

If you try to forward a message containing one of these files, even if Outlook has been customized to consider it as a Level 2 attachment (save before opening), Outlook strips the attachment from the forwarded copy.

TIP: If you need to send a file from this list and want to avoid problems with recipients who may have installed the patch, you can simply change the file name before attaching the file — for example, rename an .exe file to a .ex_ file — and include instructions on how to save it and rename it in the body of your message. Or use a zip utility to compress the file. Many Compression Tools are available to work automatically from within Outlook, though probably not all will be able to grab the .exe file, given the security surrounding attachments.

File extensionFile type
.adeMicrosoft Access project extension
.adpMicrosoft Access project
.appMicrosoft Visual FoxPro application (blocked only in Outlook 2002 SP-2 and Outlook 2000 SP-3)
.aspActive server page. (Blocked in Outlook 2002 SP3 and higher)
.asxWindows Media Audio or Video shortcut (blocked only in Outlook 2002 builds earlier than 10.0.3005.x)
.basVisual Basic class module
.batBatch file
.cer(blocked only in Outlook 2003 and later)
.chmCompiled HTML Help file
.cmdWindows NT Command script
.comMS-DOS program
.cplControl Panel extension
.crtSecurity certificate
.cshKornShell script file (blocked only in Outlook 2002 SP-2  and Outlook 2000 SP-3 and later)
.exeProgram
.fxpMicrosoft Visual FoxPro compiled program (blocked only in Outlook 2002 SP-2  and Outlook 2000 SP-3 and later)
.hlpHelp file
.htaHTML program
.infSetup  Information
.insInternet Naming Service
.ispInternet Communication settings
.jsJScript Script file
.jseJscript Encoded Script file
.kshKornShell script file (blocked only in Outlook 2002 SP-2  and Outlook 2000 SP-3 and later)
.lnkShortcut
.mdaMicrosoft Access add-in program (blocked only in Outlook 2002 and a patched version of Outlook 2000)
.mdbMicrosoft Access program
.mdtMicrosoft Access workgroup information (blocked only in Outlook 2002 SP-1  and Outlook 2000 SP-3 and later)
.mdwMicrosoft Access workgroup information (blocked only in Outlook 2002 SP-1  and Outlook 2000 SP-3 and later)
.mdeMicrosoft Access MDE database
.mdzMicrosoft Access wizard program (blocked only in Outlook 2002 and a patched version of Outlook 2000)
.mscMicrosoft Common Console document
.msiWindows Installer package
.mspWindows Installer patch
.mstVisual Test source files
.opsOffice XP settings (blocked only in Outlook 2002 SP-1 and  and Outlook 2000 SP-3 later)
.pcdPhoto CD image
.pifShortcut to MS-DOS program
.prfMicrosoft Outlook profile settings (blocked only in Outlook 2002)
.prgMicrosoft Visual FoxPro program (blocked only in Outlook 2002 SP-2  and Outlook 2000 SP-3)
.pstMicrosoft Outlook Personal Folders file (blocked only in Outlook 2000 SP-3)
.regRegistration entries
.scfWindows Explorer command (blocked only in Outlook 2002)
.scrScreen saver
.sctWindows Script Component
.shbShell Scrap Object
.shsShell Scrap Object
.tmpTemporary file. (Blocked in Outlook 2002 SP3 and higher)
.urlInternet shortcut
.vbVBScript file
.vbeVBScript encoded script file
.vbsVisual Basic Script file
.vsmacrosVisual Studio .NET macro project file. (Blocked in Outlook 2002 SP3 and higher)
.vssVisio shapes and Visio stencils (Blocked in Outlook 2002 SP3 and higher)
.vstVisio template (Blocked in Outlook 2002 SP3 and higher)
.vswVisio workspace (Blocked in Outlook 2002 SP3 and higher)
.wsWindows script file (Blocked in Outlook 2002 SP3 and higher)
.wscWindows Script Component
.wsfWindows Script file
.wshWindows Script Host Settings file

Automation Security

A “properly written” add-in should not trigger the security warnings in Outlook 2007 or Outlook 2010.

You can add a registry to prevent the dialog in Outlook 2007.

If you don’t find Office and the following keys under Microsoft, you can add the keys manually in the same order and then continue from Step 3.

Press Windows Key + R to open the Run command. Type regedit and press Enter to open the Registry Editor.

  1. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\Security.
    <span >If this key does not exist, you need to create it. For many users, this means creating each level from Microsoft down to Security.
  2. Right click on Security and choose New, DWORD. Name it PromptSimpleMAPISend (copy and paste works well as this DWORD is case sensitive).
  3. Right click on PromptSimpleMAPISend and choose Modify.
  4. Enter a value of 2.
  5. Restart Outlook. (You may need to restart the computer.)

For more information, see The programmatic security settings cannot be configured successfully when you configure the Simple MAPI settings in Outlook 2007 by using the Group Policy object


The “object model guard” feature of the patch imposes two extreme restrictions on automating Outlook from add-ins that use either the Outlook object model or Simple MAPI:

  • If an add-in tries to send an Outlook message, the user gets a notification pop-up and must explicitly authorize or deny each attempt to send. The user must wait 5 seconds before the Yes button becomes available to click.
  • If an add-in tries to access address information in an Outlook item or the address book or to save an Outlook item as a file, the user gets a notification pop-up and can deny access, authorize a one-time access or extend access for a period of several minutes. PDA sync utilities are an example of the kind of application that will be affected by this restriction.

The object model guard applies even if your code is digitally signed or running from a published Outlook form. The only way to turn it off is via the administrative options. Because of these restrictions, some Outlook features become virtually unusable, because of the number of times the user has to confirm the dialog boxes:

  • Sequential routing from Word
  • Mail merge to e-mail in Word
  • Automated mailing programs that use the Outlook Send method

See:

To avoid the prompts in applications that you develop, you can use one of these programming interfaces:

Extended MAPI Language for programming Outlook/Exchange with C++ or Delphi only.

Outlook Redemption

Provides a COM interface to Outlook objects that avoids the “object model guard” of the Outlook E-mail Security Update and exposes properties and methods not available through the Outlook model, such as sender address and Internet message headers. Several security features protect it from being used by malicious programs to send Outlook mail. For the redistributable version, it adds a Profman.dll component with the ability to enumerate, add, delete, and modify Outlook profiles using VB or VBScript.

Is Redemption a security risk? Redemption’s author, Outlook MVP Dmitry Streblechenko, responded in the outlook-dev discussion list to the topic In My World Redemption Is A Security Risk.

Visit Outlookcode.com for assistance with programming issues.

Also see Reinforcing Dialog-Based Security, a paper by two U.S. Air Force Academy professors that demonstrates how to get around the object model guard prompts using VBScript code and the SendKeys method to, in effect, click the buttons on the prompts. For utilities that takes a similar approach, see the tools listed below.

Automation Security Tools

Tools

Advanced Security for Outlook

Use Advanced Security for Outlook to learn what programs are trying to access Outlook and permanently allow or deny access to the program and the next time it requests access, the action you choose will be automatically executed and Outlook Security will not annoy you with messages about trying to access e-mail addresses you have stored in Outlook. Freeware, available in English, German and Russian. Advanced Security is fully compatible with Windows 8 (32-bit and 64-bit editions) and Microsoft Office 2013 (32-bit editions only). The programs button is available on the ribbon in Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013.

ClickYes Pro

ClickYes Pro is a tuning tool for Microsoft Outlook security settings. It allows you to configure which applications can automatically send emails using Outlook and access email addresses stored in Outlook address book. ClickYes Pro runs as a background task providing a convenient icon in the taskbar notification area to manage allowed applications. It uses an encrypted storage and is highly secure and safe. Client and Server versions available. Works with Outlook 2000 - Outlook 2010.

CodeTwo Outlook WarningDoctor

CodeTwo Outlook WarningDoctor removes the security warnings that appear when sending mail or performing other actions recognized by Microsoft as a "risky" (for example, when you try to read some data using the Outlook or CDO API #. Especially useful for designers of macros, Visual Basic, and programmers of other scripting languages that use the object model.Outlook 2000 and up, including Outlook 2010 64bit.

Dkms's XP File splitter

Source code included. The SetAddressingPermissions procedure shows how to use SendKeys with Outlook security prompts.

Express ClickYes

Clicks the security dialog buttons automatically, but can be set to start in a suspended state. Developers can activate and suspend automatic clicking of the security dialogs programmatically. (HINT: Use &H2 instead of WM_CLOSE) Free.

Extended MAPI

Language for programming Outlook/Exchange with C++ or Delphi only.

Redemption

Update added support for Outlook 2013. Version 5.5

Security Manager for Outlook

Security Manager for Microsoft Outlook is a one-line programming tool that allows you to bypass security settings and avoid security warnings, alerts or prompts in add-ins and applications that interact with Microsoft Outlook. Security Manager is developed for .NET, VCL and ActiveX platforms (VB.NET, C#, C++, Visual Basic 6, Delphi, VBA, Word MailMerge) and supports MS Outlook 2000, Outlook 2002 (XP), Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010 with / without service packs.

If you get the security prompt constantly in a Defense Messaging System environment, see OL DMS 3.0 Users Receive Security Prompt When Using Outlook 2000 SR1 or Outlook 2002.

Outlook Forms Security

With the patch applied, script on unpublished or one-off Outlook forms will not run. Users will no longer see an Enable/Disable Macros prompt.

With the security patch in place or with Outlook 2002, this means that you should never check the Send form definition with item box on the Properties page of a message form, since this will cause the form to one-off. Instead, you should make sure that the recipient has access to the published form.

Outlook Security Zone

The patch puts Outlook into the Restricted Sites security zone and disables scripting for the Restricted Sites zone. (The original default setting for both Outlook 98 and Outlook 2000 is the Internet zone.) For more information, see:

Other Changes

The patch changes the setting for macro security for Word, Excel and PowerPoint to High. See:

The Outlook 98 version of the patch removes the CDO (Collaboration Data Objects) component, which is often used by Outlook-related applications.

You won’t be able to edit embedded objects that you receive in rich-text format messages. However, you may be able click Forward and edit the embedded object in the copy to be forwarded. See OL2002 Can’t Edit an Embedded Object in Rich Text Message.

Affected Applications

Known Problems

The main problem is, of course, that users decide they need the blocked attachments after they’ve applied the patch. See Opening .exe Attachments with the Microsoft Outlook E-mail Security Patch.

These other problems are fixed in Office 2000 SP-2:

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

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