Microsoft Security Bulletin MS03-014: Cumulative Patch for Outlook Express (330994)

2003-04-25T00:00:00
ID SECURITYVULNS:DOC:4440
Type securityvulns
Reporter Securityvulns
Modified 2003-04-25T00:00:00

Description

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Title: Cumulative Patch for Outlook Express (330994) Date: 23 April 2003 Software: Microsoft (c) Outlook Express Impact: Run code of the attacker's choice on a user's machine. Max Risk: Critical Bulletin: MS03-014

Microsoft encourages customers to review the Security Bulletins at: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS03-014.asp http://www.microsoft.com/security/security_bulletins/ms03-014.asp


Issue:

MHTML stands for MIME Encapsulation of Aggregate HTML. MHTML is an Internet standard that defines the MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) structure used to send HTML content in e-mail message bodies. The MHTML URL Handler in Windows is part of Outlook Express and provides a URL type that can be used on the local machine. This URL type (MHTML://) allows MHTML documents to be launched from a command line, from Start/Run, using Windows Explorer or from within Internet Explorer.

A vulnerability exists in the MHTML URL Handler that allows any file that can be rendered as text to be opened and rendered as part of a page in Internet Explorer. As a result, it would be possible to construct a URL that referred to a text file that was stored on the local computer and have that file render as HTML. If the text file contained script, that script would execute when the file was accessed. Since the file would reside on the local computer, it would be rendered in the Local Computer Security Zone. Files that are opened within the Local Computer Zone are subject to fewer restrictions than files opened in other security zones.

Using this method, an attacker could attempt to construct a URL and either host it on a website or send it via email. In the web based scenario, where a user then clicked on a URL hosted on a website, an attacker could have the ability to read or launch files already present on the local machine. In the case of an e-mail borne attack, if the user was using Outlook Express 6.0 or Outlook 2002 in their default configurations, or Outlook 98 or 2000 in conjunction with the Outlook Email Security Update, then an attack could not be automated and the user would still need to click on a URL sent in the e-mail. However if the user was not using Outlook Express 6.0 or Outlook 2002 in their default configurations, or Outlook 98 or 2000 in conjunction with the Outlook Email Security Update, the attacker could cause an attack to trigger automatically without the user having to click on a URL contained in an e-mail. In both the web based and e-mail based cases, any limitations on the user's privileges would also restrict the capabilities of the attacker's script.

Applying the update listed in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS03-004 - -- Cumulative Patch for Internet Explorer-will help block an attacker from being able to load a file onto a user's computer and prevent the passing of parameters to an executable. This means that an attacker could only launch a program that already existed on the computer-provided the attacker was aware of the location of the program-and would not be able to pass parameters to the program for it to execute.

MHTML is a standard for exchanging HTML content in e-mail and as a result the MHTML URL Handler function has been implemented in Outlook Express. Internet Explorer can also render MHTML content, however the MHTML function has not been implemented separately in Internet Explorer - it simply uses Outlook Express to render the MHTML content.

Mitigating Factors:

  • -For the web-based scenario, the attacker would have to host a web site that contained a web page used to exploit this vulnerability and entice a user to visit it. An attacker would have no way to force a user to visit the site. Instead, the attacker would need to lure the user there, typically by getting the user to click on a link to the attacker's site.

  • -The HTML mail-based attack scenario would be blocked by Outlook Express 6.0 and Outlook 2002 in their default configurations, and by Outlook 98 and 2000 if used in conjunction with the Outlook Email Security Update.

  • -Exploiting the vulnerability would allow the attacker only the same privileges as the user. Users whose accounts are configured to have few privileges on the system would be at less risk than ones who operate with administrative privileges.

  • -If the cumulative patch for Internet Explorer MS03-004 has been installed, known means by which an attacker may place a file onto a user's computer will be blocked.

  • -In order to invoke an executable already present on the local system, an attacker must know the path to that executable.

Risk Rating:

  • Critical

Patch Availability:

  • A patch is available to fix this vulnerability. Please read the Security Bulletins at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms03-014.asp http://www.microsoft.com/security/security_bulletins/ms03-014.asp

for information on obtaining this patch.


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