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Home » Hacking News » Unchecked Buffer in Internet Explorer and Office for Mac CauseCode to Execute

Unchecked Buffer in Internet Explorer and Office for Mac CauseCode to Execute

by Nikola Strahija on April 21st, 2002 This is a cumulative patch that, when applied, eliminates all previously released security vulnerabilities affecting IE 5.1 for Macintosh, and Office v. X for Macintosh. In addition, it eliminates two newly discovered vulnerabilities.

- The first is a buffer overrun vulnerability associated with the
handling of a particular HTML element. Because of support for
HTML in Office applications, this flaw affects both IE and Office
for Macintosh. A security vulnerability results because an
attacker can levy a buffer overrun attack against IE that attempts
to exploit this flaw. A successful attack would have the result of
causing the program to fail, or to cause code of the attacker's
choice to run as if it were the user.

- The second is a vulnerability that can allow local AppleScripts
to be invoked by a web page. This vulnerability can allow locally
stored AppleScripts to be invoked automatically without first
calling the Helper application. The AppleScripts would run as if
they had been launched by the user, and could take the same
actions as any AppleScript legitimately launched by the user.
The AppleScript would have to already be present on the system;
there is no way for an attacker to deliver an AppleScript of her
choosing through this vulnerability.

Mitigating Factors:
Unchecked Buffer in HTML Element:

- Successfully exploiting this issue with Office files requires
that a user accept files from an unknown or untrusted source.
Users should never accept files unknown or untrusted sources.
Accepting files only from trusted sources can prevent attempts
to exploit this issue.

- A successful attack using HTML email would require specific
knowledge of the user's mail client and cannot be mounted against
PC users.

- A successful attack using an HTML web page would require the
attacker to lure the user to visiting a site under her control.
Users who exercise caution in their browsing habits can
potentially protect themselves from attempts to exploit this

- On operating systems that enforce security on per-user basis,
such as Mac OS X, the specific actions that an attacker's code
can take would be limited to those allowed by the privileges of
the user's account.

Local AppleScript Invocation:

- The vulnerability only affects IE on Mac OS 8 & 9.

- A successful attack requires that the attacker know the full path
and file name of any AppleScript they want to invoke.

- The vulnerability provides no means to deliver an AppleScript of
the attacker's construction: it can only invoke AppleScripts
already present on the user's system.

Risk Rating:
- Internet systems: None
- Intranet systems: None
- Client systems: Critical

Patch Availability:
- A patch is available to fix this vulnerability. Please read the
Security Bulletin at
for information on obtaining this patch.

- Josha Bronson of AngryPacket Security
( and w00w00

- ---------------------------------------------------------------------

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