Vulnerability Alert

Microsoft Office Excel Featheader Record Processing Arbitrary Code Execution Vulnerability

 
Threat Type:CWE-94: Code Injection
IntelliShield ID:19322
Version:3
First Published:2009 November 10 18:58 GMT
Last Published:2010 May 21 16:16 GMT
Port: Not available
CVE:CVE-2009-3129
Urgency:Unlikely Use
Credibility:Confirmed
Severity:Mild Damage
CVSS Base:9.3 CVSS Calculator
CVSS Version 2.0
CVSS Temporal:7.7
 
Version Summary:

Functional code that exploits the Microsoft Office Excel Featheader record processing arbitrary code execution vulnerability is available.

 
 
Description

Microsoft Office Excel contains a vulnerability that could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to execute arbitrary code.

This vulnerability exists due to errors in processing Featheader records during the opening of Excel documents.  An unauthenticated, remote attacker could exploit this vulnerability by convincing a user to view a malicious file.  If the user opens the file, the attacker could execute arbitrary code on the system with the privileges of the user.

Functional code that exploits this vulnerability is circulating in the wild as part of malware distributed through spam e-mail messages.

Microsoft has confirmed this vulnerability in a security bulletin and released software updates.

 
Warning Indicators

The following Microsoft products are affected:

  • Office Excel 2002 SP3 and prior
  • Office Excel 2003 SP3 and prior
  • Office Excel 2007 SP2 and prior
  • Office Excel Viewer 2003 SP3 and prior
  • Office Excel Viewer 2007 SP2 and prior
  • Office 2004 for Mac
  • Office 2008 for Mac
  • Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats SP2 and prior
 
IntelliShield Analysis

An attacker cannot directly exploit this vulnerability and instead must rely upon user interaction in order to accomplish an exploit.? The attacker must convince the user to open a malicious document on the vulnerable system.? The attacker may send documents to users via e-mail messages or post documents on public websites.? Attackers may use social engineering techniques?in an attempt to convince a user?to open a provided document.

If an exploit is successful, the attacker could execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the user.? Systems that restrict user privileges may have little impact in the event of an exploit, as any code execution would occur with limited privileges.? However, on systems that grant users elevated privileges, the attacker could completely compromise the system, as any executed code may run in a privileged security context.

The Cisco Applied Intelligence team has created an Applied Mitigation Bulletin to address vulnerabilities that Microsoft disclosed in the November 2009 security bulletin release. This Cisco bulletin, which assists administrators in identifying or mitigating these vulnerabilities using Cisco devices, is available at the following link: Cisco Applied Mitigation Bulletin: Microsoft Security Bulletin Release for November 2009

 
Vendor Announcements

Microsoft has released a security bulletin at the following link: MS09-067

 
Impact

An unauthenticated, remote attacker could exploit this vulnerability to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the user.? If that user holds elevated privileges, the attacker could execute code resulting in a complete system compromise.

 
Technical Information

The vulnerability is due to errors when the vulnerable application handles Featheader?tags that are?used in Excel Binary Interchange File Format (BIFF) files.? An unauthenticated, remote attacker could exploit this vulnerability by crafting an Excel document that contains malicious values for the cbHdrData element within Featheader?tags and convincing a user to open the document.? Errors?that occur when?processing the file in Excel could allow the attacker to execute arbitrary code with privileges of the user.

 
Safeguards

Administrators are advised to apply the available software updates.

Users are advised not to open unsolicited e-mail attachments. Users should verify that attachments are safe before opening them.

Users are advised to run applications with the least privileges possible.

Users may consider applying the Microsoft Office Isolated Conversion Environment (MOICE) to safely open Excel files from suspicious or unrecognized sources on systems that are running Microsoft Office 2003 or Office 2007.

Administrators may consider using the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) scan tool to identify common security misconfigurations and missing security updates on system endpoints.

 
Patches/Software

Microsoft customers can obtain updates directly by using the links in the security bulletin. These updates are also distributed by Windows automatic update features and available on the Windows Update website. Microsoft Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Systems Management Server, and System Center Configuration Manager can assist administrators in deploying software updates.


Signatures
 
Cisco Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) 6.0
Signature IDSignature NameReleaseLatest Release Date
21920/0Microsoft Excel Remote Code ExecutionS4962010 Jun 16 
22083/0Microsoft Excel Remote Code ExecutionS4472009 Nov 10 
 
Alert History
 

Version 2, November 11, 2009, 10:44 AM: Additional technical information is available to describe the Microsoft Office Excel Featheader record processing arbitrary code execution vulnerability.

Version 1, November 10, 2009, 1:58 PM: Microsoft Office Excel contains a vulnerability that could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the user.? Updates are available.



Product Sets
 
The security vulnerability applies to the following combinations of products.

Primary Products:
Microsoft, Inc.Excel 2002 (XP) Base, SP1, SP2, SP3 | 2003 Base, SP1, SP2, SP3 | 2007 Base, SP1, SP2
Microsoft, Inc.Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats Original Release Base, SP1, SP2
Microsoft, Inc.Microsoft Office Excel Viewer 2003 Base, SP1, SP2, SP3 | 2007 Base, SP1, SP2
Microsoft, Inc.Office for Mac 2004 Base | 2008 Base

Associated Products:
Microsoft, Inc.Office XP (2002) Base, SP1, SP2, SP3 | 2003 Base, SP1, SP2, SP3 | 2007 Base, SP1, SP2




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