Feeds

Microsoft racing to patch Outlook flaw

Nasty bug has more bite than we first suspected

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The scope and simplicity of the Microsoft Outlook bug we reported last week is far more serious than we first suspected.

On Friday we reported that veteran bug hunter Georgi Guninski had discovered a loophole with Office XP which might allow an attacker to view a victim's email, delete or manipulate his or her data.

This is bad enough but Microsoft has now been forced to concede the potentially devastating vulnerability affects not only Office XP but also Office 2000 and 98 to boot. The software giant has admitted that an attacker might be able to run malware of his choice simply by tricking a victim into visiting a maliciously constructed Web site.

The root cause of the problem is an ActiveX feature, called Outlook View Control, which allows Outlook mail folders to be viewed via Web pages. Microsoft meant to design this feature so that data could only be browsed, but in practice it exposes a function that could allow an attacker to "delete mail, change calendar information, or take virtually any other action through Outlook including running arbitrary code on the user's machine".

Either maliciously constructed script or HTML code could allow a hacker control of a machine and attacks could be mounted either from a Web page or by tricking a user into opening a poisoned HTML email.

Guninski, who has a history of clashing with Microsoft over the speed at which it responds to his alert, has produced a demo of the bug. Ironically those curious enough to test this bug might be prompted by a security warning asking if they want to install and run the offending Microsoft Outlook View Control component. Don't all rush at once...

Click for full-size image

Microsoft is preparing a patch to shore up Outlook's defences against the bug and, in the meantime, has advised e-mail Outlook 98 and 2000 users to install the Outlook E-mail Security Update if they haven't done this already.

Some security firms, such as Finjan Software, are advising clients to restrict their use of ActiveX controls, and calling on Microsoft to take away lessons from a exploit that lower the bar on how difficult it is to take over a user's machine. ®

External Links

Microsoft's (interim) security notice: Outlook View Control Exposes Unsafe Functionality

Related Stories

Guninski finds new ActiveX security hole in OXP
Security flaw in MS Exchange patch
There's a virus in my WinXP system, part two
MS gets hacked off with bug hunter

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Google recommends pronounceable passwords
Super Chrome goes into battle with Mr Mxyzptlk
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Reddit wipes clean leaked celeb nudie pics, tells users to zip it
Now we've had all THAT TRAFFIC, we 'deplore' this theft
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
TorrentLocker unpicked: Crypto coding shocker defeats extortionists
Lousy XOR opens door into which victims can shove a foot
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.