iDefense Security Advisory 04.08.08: Microsoft Windows Graphics Rendering Engine Integer Overflow Vulnerability

Type securityvulns
Reporter Securityvulns
Modified 2008-04-09T00:00:00


iDefense Security Advisory 04.08.08 Apr 08, 2008


Microsoft Windows graphics device interface (GDI) is the core library used to display graphics and text on the Windows operating system. It is the standard interface through which applications access the graphics rendering engine. For more information, see the vendor's site found at the following link.


Remote exploitation of an integer overflow vulnerability in multiple versions of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the current user.

The vulnerability occurs when parsing a header structure that describes a bitmap contained in the file. Several values from this header are used in an arithmetic operation that calculates the number of bytes to allocate for a heap buffer. This calculation can overflow, which results in an undersized heap buffer being allocated. This buffer is then overflowed with data from the file.


Exploitation allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the current user. Exploitation would require convincing a targeted user to visit a malicious URL through some form of social engineering.

This vulnerability can also be triggered through e-mail. If the e-mail client automatically displays images embedded in the e-mail, the user only needs to open the e-mail to trigger the vulnerability.


iDefense has confirmed the existence of this vulnerability in the following Microsoft products:

Windows 2000 SP4 Windows XP SP2

Windows Server 2003 SP1, SP2, Vista, and Vista SP1 are not affected.


Turn off metafile processing by modifying the registry.

Under registry key

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\GRE_Initialize

create a DWORD entry "DisableMetaFiles" and set it to 1.

Note 1: This doesn't affect processes that are already running, so you might need to log off and log in again or restart the computer after making the change.

Note 2: This workaround only blocks the metafile attack vector. Since the vulnerable code is in gdi32.dll, it can possibly be reached through other attack vectors.

Impact of Workaround: components relying on metafile processing might not work properly, such as printing.

Viewing email in plain text format will mitigate email based attacks.


Microsoft has officially addressed this vulnerability with Security Bulletin MS08-021. For more information, consult their bulletin at the following URL.


The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the name CVE-2008-1083 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in the CVE list (, which standardizes names for security problems.


12/17/2007 Initial vendor notification 12/17/2007 Initial vendor response 04/08/2008 Coordinated public disclosure


This vulnerability was discovered by Jun Mao, iDefense Labs.

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Copyright © 2008 iDefense, Inc.

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Disclaimer: The information in the advisory is believed to be accurate at the time of publishing based on currently available information. Use of the information constitutes acceptance for use in an AS IS condition. There are no warranties with regard to this information. Neither the author nor the publisher accepts any liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential loss or damage arising from use of, or reliance on, this information.