ROCKET SCIENCE: Outllook 2003

Type securityvulns
Reporter Securityvulns
Modified 2004-05-19T00:00:00


Monday, May 17, 2004

Technical final step to 'silent delivery and installation of an executable on the target computer, no client input other than reading an email' this can be achieved with the highly touted 'secure-by-default' Outlook 2003 mail client from the craftsman known as 'Microsoft'.

Default settings of the 'gadget' are: restricted zone which means no active x controls, no scripting, no file downloads etc.

This can all very easily be bypassed by simply embedding in a rich text message our OLE object, one Windows Media Player. We then point our source url to our media file which includes or now run-of -the mill 0s url flip and simply by previewing or opening the email message invoke our device known as Internet Explorer to proxy our manipulation of the recipient's machine.

In typical fashion despite the settings in the Windows Media Player being set to 'disallow' scripting in media files, despite Outlook 2003's 'highly' secure default setting of view html content in the so-called 'restricted zone'; it all still works !

[screen shot: 46KB]

This now all automates our process and coupling it with our previous first step finding:


all we need to do next is our second step and embed the entire package including the media file into the mail message and send it along its merry way.

The whole Outlook 2003 'gadget' is broken.

Working Example:

Simply view the mail message:


  1. Miserable selection of full screen = true can allow us to run our 'video' in WMP full screen mode. How about that: forget about html spam messages, now we have full screen video advertisements on opening the mail message.
  2. Tested on XP, 2K3 POP mail client settings Outlook 2003, Exchange Server settings unknown at this time
  3. Subject to initial WMP settings a notification of connection settings can pop up, however generally dismissed at first running of WMP along with neither yes or no selection having an effect [as usual].
  4. Firewalls should flag Outlook itself trying to escape out on port 80. Nevertheless if all embedded no need for remote hosting.
  5. Disable HTML settings or get another mail client [better of the two as below]
  6. Lots more where this came from

End Call