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Microsoft Excel Style Record Remote Code Execution Vulnerability

Risk

High

Date Discovered

March 10, 2008

Description

Microsoft Excel is prone to a remote code-execution vulnerability. Attackers may exploit this issue by enticing victims into opening a maliciously crafted Excel file ('.xls'). Successful exploits may allow attackers to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the user running the application. This may facilitate a compromise of vulnerable computers.

Technologies Affected

  • Microsoft Excel 2000
  • Microsoft Excel 2000 SP2
  • Microsoft Excel 2000 SP3
  • Microsoft Excel 2000 SR1
  • Microsoft Excel 2002
  • Microsoft Excel 2002 SP1
  • Microsoft Excel 2002 SP2
  • Microsoft Excel 2002 SP3
  • Microsoft Excel 2003
  • Microsoft Excel 2003 SP1
  • Microsoft Excel 2003 SP2
  • Microsoft Excel 2003 SP3
  • Microsoft Excel 2004 for Mac
  • Microsoft Excel Viewer 2003
  • Microsoft Office 2000
  • Microsoft Office 2000 SP1
  • Microsoft Office 2000 SP2
  • Microsoft Office 2000 SP3
  • Microsoft Office 2002
  • Microsoft Office 2003
  • Microsoft Office 2003 SP1
  • Microsoft Office 2003 SP2
  • Microsoft Office 2003 SP3
  • Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac
  • Microsoft Office XP
  • Microsoft Office XP SP1
  • Microsoft Office XP SP2
  • Microsoft Office XP SP3

Recommendations

Run all software as a nonprivileged user with minimal access rights.

To reduce the impact of latent vulnerabilities, always run nonadministrative software as an unprivileged user with minimal access rights.

Do not accept or execute files from untrusted or unknown sources.

To reduce the likelihood of successful exploits, never handle files that originate from unfamiliar or untrusted sources.

Implement multiple redundant layers of security.

Memory-protection schemes (such as nonexecutable stack and heap configurations and randomly mapped memory segments) will complicate exploits of memory-corruption vulnerabilities.
Microsoft released fixes and an advisory to address this issue. Please see the references for more information. NOTE: On March 13, 2008, Microsoft updated security bulletin MS08-014. The vendor reported that some users may experience problems caused by this update. An issue in this update may lead to incorrect results from Excel calculations where a Real Time Data source is used in a user-defined Visual Basic for Applications function. Customers using Microsoft Excel 2003 Service Pack 2 or Service Pack 3 with a Real Time Data source for a user-defined Visual Basic for Applications function are advised to test additions before deploying this update. The vendor recommends considering the workarounds in security bulletin MS08-014 if this update cannot be deployed because of this issue.

Credits

Bing Liu of Fortinet is credited with the discovery of this vulnerability.
Copyright © Symantec Corporation.
Permission to redistribute this alert electronically is granted as long as it is not edited in any way unless authorized by Symantec Security Response. Reprinting the whole or part of this alert in any medium other than electronically requires permission from secure@symantec.com.

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.
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