Feeds

Microsoft confirms code execution bug in Windows

0days R Us

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Microsoft has confirmed reports that several versions of Windows are vulnerable to exploits that allow remote attackers to take full control of users' computers using booby-trapped emails and websites.

In an advisory issued Tuesday, Microsoft said it was investigating “new public reports” of vulnerability in the XP, Server 2003, Vista, and Server 2008 versions of Windows. In fact, the first known report of the bug in the way those operating systems process thumbnail images came on December 15 at a security conference in South Korea. On Tuesday, exploit code was added to the Metasploit software framework for hackers.

“This is a remote code execution vulnerability,” the Microsoft advisory stated. “An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of an affected system.”

The flaw resides in the Windows Graphics Rendering Engine and can be exploited when victims view a specially manipulated thumbnails on network-shared folders or drives or in online WebDAV-shared folders. It can also be targeted when email users open or preview Microsoft Word or PowerPoint files that contain the doctored images.

There are no known reports of attacks in the wild that exploit the vulnerability, and Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 aren't susceptible.

“The vulnerability is exploited by setting the number of color indexes in the color table to a negative number,” Johannes Ullrich, chief research officer at the Sans Institute, blogged. Slides from the December 15 conference provide hints that the exploits can bypass security measures such as data execution prevention and safe exception handling, he added.

In a blog post, Microsoft Senior Marketing Communications Manager for Trustworthy Computing, Angela Gunn, said Microsoft was working on a patch, but that for the time being “the circumstances around the issue do not currently meet the criteria for an out-of-band release.” Microsoft's next patch release is scheduled for January 11, but it's highly unlikely a bug fix will be ready by then.

Workarounds include configuring Windows Access Control List to be more restrictive, which will interfere with the way the Graphics Rendering Engine displays media files.

The bug is at least the third unpatched vulnerability in a piece of Microsoft software. Two weeks ago, the company warned of a vulnerability in Internet Explorer that creates a means for hackers to inject malware onto vulnerable systems. On New Year's Day, security researcher Michal Zalewski disclosed a separate bug in the Microsoft browser that he believes also allows attackers to hijack user PCs. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.