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  Microsoft Windows XMLHTTP ActiveX code execution

  Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-071 Vulnerability in Microsoft XML Core Services Could Allow Remote Code Execution (928088)

From:MICROSOFT <secure_(at)_microsoft.com>
Date:05.11.2006
Subject:Microsoft Security Advisory (927892) Vulnerability in Microsoft XML Core Services Could Allow Remote Code Execution

Microsoft Security Advisory (927892)
Vulnerability in Microsoft XML Core Services Could Allow Remote Code Execution
Published: November 3, 2006

Microsoft is investigating public reports of a vulnerability in the XMLHTTP 4.0 ActiveX Control, part of Microsoft XML Core Services 4.0 on Windows. We are aware of limited attacks that are attempting to use the reported vulnerability.

Customers who are running Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 in their default configurations, with the Enhanced Security Configuration turned on, are not affected. Customers would need to visit an attacker’s Web site to be at risk. We will continue to investigate these public reports.

Upon completion of this investigation, Microsoft will take the appropriate action to help protect our customers. A security update will be released through our monthly release process or an out-of-cycle security update will be provided, depending on customer needs.

Customers are encouraged to keep their anti-virus software up to date.

Microsoft encourages users to exercise caution when they open e-mail and links in e-mail from untrusted sources. For more information about Safe Browsing, visit the Trustworthy Computing Web site.

We continue to encourage customers to follow our Protect Your PC guidance of enabling a firewall, applying software updates and installing antivirus software. Customers can learn more about these steps at the Protect Your PC Web site.

Customers who believe they have been attacked should contact their local FBI office or post their complaint on the Internet Fraud Complaint Center Web site. Customers outside the U.S. should contact the national law enforcement agency in their country.

Customers who believe they may have been affected by this issue can also contact Product Support Services. You can contact Product Support Services in the United States and Canada at no charge using the PC Safety line (1 866-PCSAFETY). Customers outside of the United States and Canada can locate the number for no-charge virus support by visiting the Microsoft Help and Support Web site.

Mitigating Factors:


In a Web-based attack scenario, an attacker would have to host a Web site that contains a Web page that is used to exploit this vulnerability. An attacker would have no way to force users to visit a malicious Web site. Instead, an attacker would have to persuade them to visit the Web site, typically by getting them to click a link that takes them to the attacker's Web site.


An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the logged on user. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights.


The Restricted sites zone helps reduce attacks that could try to exploit this vulnerability by preventing Active Scripting from being used when reading HTML e-mail messages. However, if a user clicks a link in an e-mail message, they could still be vulnerable to this issue through the Web-based attack scenario.

By default, Outlook Express 6, Outlook 2002, and Outlook 2003 open HTML e-mail messages in the Restricted sites zone. Additionally, Outlook 2000 opens HTML e-mail messages in the Restricted sites zone if the Outlook E-mail Security Update has been installed. Outlook Express 5.5 Service Pack 2 opens HTML e-mail messages in the Restricted sites zone if Microsoft Security Bulletin MS04-018 has been installed.


By default, Internet Explorer on Windows Server 2003 runs in a restricted mode that is known as Enhanced Security Configuration. This mode mitigates this vulnerability because ActiveX and Active Scripting are disabled by default.
General Information

Overview

Purpose of Advisory: To provide customers with initial notification of the publicly disclosed vulnerability. For more information see the “Suggested Actions” section of the security advisory for more information.

Advisory Status: Issue Confirmed, Security Update Planned

Recommendation: Review the suggested actions and configure as appropriate
References Identification

Microsoft Knowledge Base Article


927892

This advisory discusses the following software.
Related Software

Microsoft XML Core Services 4.0 when installed on Windows 2000 Service Pack 4

Microsoft XML Core Services 4.0 when installed on Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2

Microsoft XML Core Services 4.0 when installed on Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the scope of the advisory?
Microsoft is aware of a new, publicly disclosed, vulnerability report affecting the XMLHTTP 4.0 ActiveX Control, which is part of Microsoft XML Core Services 4.0. This vulnerability affects the software that is listed in the “Overview” section.

Is this a security vulnerability that requires Microsoft to issue a security update?
We are currently investigating the issue to determine the appropriate course of action for customers. We will include the fix for this issue in an upcoming security bulletin.

What is Microsoft XML Core Services (MSXML)?
Microsoft XML Core Services (MSXML) allows customers who use JScript, Visual Basic Scripting Edition (VBScript), and Microsoft Visual Studio 6.0 to build XML-based applications that provide interoperability with other applications that adhere to the XML 1.0 standard. For more information regarding MSXML, see the MSDN Web site.

What might an attacker use this function to do?
An attacker could host a specially crafted Web site that is designed to exploit this vulnerability through Internet Explorer and then persuade a user to view the Web site. This can also include Web sites that accept user-provided content or advertisements, Web sites that host user-provided content or advertisements, and compromised Web sites. These Web sites could contain specially crafted content that could exploit this vulnerability. In all cases, however, an attacker would have no way to force users to visit these Web sites. Instead, an attacker would have to persuade users to visit the Web site, typically by getting them to click a link in an e-mail message or in an Instant Messenger request that takes users to the attacker's Web site. It could also be possible to display specially crafted Web content by using banner advertisements or by using other methods to deliver Web content to affected systems.
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Suggested Actions

Workarounds

Microsoft has tested the following workarounds. Although these workarounds will not correct the underlying vulnerability, they help block known attack vectors. When a workaround reduces functionality, it is identified in the following section.

Prevent the XMLHTTP 4.0 ActiveX Control from running in Internet Explorer

You can disable attempts to instantiate this ActiveX control in Internet Explorer by setting the kill bit for the control in the registry.

Warning If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

For detailed steps that you can use to prevent a control from running in Internet Explorer, see Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 240797. Follow these steps in this article to create a Compatibility Flags value in the registry to prevent a COM object from being instantiated in Internet Explorer.

To set the kill bit for a CLSID with a value of {88d969c5-f192-11d4-a65f-0040963251e5} paste the following text in a text editor such as Notepad. Then, save the file by using the .reg file name extension.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\ActiveX Compatibility\{88d969c5-f192-11d4-a65f-0040963251e5}]
"Compatibility Flags"=dword:00000400

You can apply this .reg file to individual systems by double-clicking it. You can also apply it across domains by using Group Policy. For more information about Group Policy, visit the following Microsoft Web sites:

Group Policy collection

What is Group Policy Object Editor?

Core Group Policy tools and settings

Note You must restart Internet Explorer for your changes to take effect.

Impact of Workaround: Web sites that use the XMLHTTP 4.0 ActiveX control may no longer display or function correctly.
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Configure Internet Explorer to prompt before running Active Scripting or disable Active Scripting in the Internet and Local intranet security zone.

You can help protect against this vulnerability by changing your settings to prompt before running Active Scripting or to disable Active Scripting in the Internet and Local intranet security zone. To do this, follow these steps:

1.


In Internet Explorer, click Internet Options on the Tools menu.

2.


Click the Security tab.

3.


Click Internet, and then click Custom Level.

4.


Under Settings, in the Scripting section, under Active Scripting, click Promptor Disable, and then click OK.

5.


Click Local intranet, and then click Custom Level.

6.


Under Settings, in the Scripting section, under Active Scripting, click Promptor Disable, and then click OK.

7.


Click OK two times to return to Internet Explorer.

Note Disabling Active Scripting in the Internet and Local intranet security zones may cause some Web sites to work incorrectly. If you have difficulty using a Web site after you change this setting, and you are sure the site is safe to use, you can add that site to your list of trusted sites. This will allow the site to work correctly.

Note After you set Internet Explorer to require a prompt before it runs ActiveX controls and/or Active Scripting in the Internet zone and in the Local intranet zone, you can add sites that you trust to the Internet Explorer Trusted sites zone. This will allow you to continue to use trusted Web sites exactly as you do today, while helping to protect you from this attack on untrusted sites. We recommend that you add only sites that you trust to the Trusted sites zone.

To do this, follow these steps:

1.


In Internet Explorer, click Tools, click Internet Options, and then click the Security tab.

2.


In the Select a Web content zone to specify its current security settings box, click Trusted Sites, and then click Sites.

3.


If you want to add sites that do not require an encrypted channel, click to clear the Require server verification (https:) for all sites in this zone check box.

4.


In the Add this Web site to the zone box, type the URL of a site that you trust, and then click Add.

5.


Repeat these steps for each site that you want to add to the zone.

6.


Click OK two times to accept the changes and return to Internet Explorer.

Note Add any sites that you trust not to take malicious action on your computer. Two in particular that you may want to add are "*.windowsupdate.microsoft.com" and “*.update.microsoft.com” (without the quotation marks). These are the sites that will host the update, and it requires an ActiveX Control to install the update.

Impact of Workaround: There are side effects to prompting before running Active Scripting. Many Web sites that are on the Internet or on an intranet use Active Scripting to provide additional functionality. For example, an online e-commerce site or banking site may use Active Scripting to provide menus, ordering forms, or even account statements. Prompting before running Active Scripting is a global setting that affects all Internet and intranet sites. You will be prompted frequently when you enable this workaround. For each prompt, if you feel you trust the site that you are visiting, click Yes to run Active Scripting. If you do not want to be prompted for all these sites, use the steps outlined in "Add sites that you trust to the Internet Explorer Trusted sites zone”.
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Configure Internet Explorer to prompt before running ActiveX Controls or disable ActiveX Controls in the Internet and Local intranet security zone.

You can help protect against this vulnerability by changing your Internet Explorer settings to prompt before running ActiveX controls. To do this, follow these steps:

1.


In Internet Explorer, click Internet Options on the Tools menu.

2.


Click the Security tab.

3.


Click Internet, and then click Custom Level.

4.


Under Settings, in the ActiveX controls and plug-ins section, under Run ActiveX controls and plug-ins, click Prompt or Disable, and then click OK.

5.


Click Local intranet, and then click Custom Level.

6.


Under Settings, in the ActiveX controls and plug-ins section, under Run ActiveX controls and plug-ins, click Prompt or Disable, and then click OK.

7.


Click OK two times to return to Internet Explorer.

Note After you set Internet Explorer to require a prompt before it runs ActiveX controls and/or Active Scripting in the Internet zone and in the Local intranet zone, you can add sites that you trust to the Internet Explorer Trusted sites zone. This will allow you to continue to use trusted Web sites exactly as you do today, while helping to protect you from this attack on untrusted sites. We recommend that you add only sites that you trust to the Trusted sites zone.

To do this, follow these steps:

1.


In Internet Explorer, click Tools, click Internet Options, and then click the Security tab.

2.


In the Select a Web content zone to specify its current security settings box, click Trusted Sites, and then click Sites.

3.


If you want to add sites that do not require an encrypted channel, click to clear the Require server verification (https:) for all sites in this zone check box.

4.


In the Add this Web site to the zone box, type the URL of a site that you trust, and then click Add.

5.


Repeat these steps for each site that you want to add to the zone.

6.


Click OK two times to accept the changes and return to Internet Explorer.

Note Add any sites that you trust not to take malicious action on your computer. Two in particular that you may want to add are "*.windowsupdate.microsoft.com" and “*.update.microsoft.com” (without the quotation marks). These are the sites that will host the update, and it requires an ActiveX Control to install the update.

Impact of Workaround: There are side effects to prompting before running ActiveX controls. Many Web sites that are on the Internet or on an intranet use ActiveX to provide additional functionality. For example, an online e-commerce site or banking site may use ActiveX controls to provide menus, ordering forms, or even account statements. Prompting before running ActiveX controls is a global setting that affects all Internet and intranet sites. You will be prompted frequently when you enable this workaround. For each prompt, if you feel you trust the site that you are visiting, click Yes to run ActiveX controls. If you do not want to be prompted for all these sites, use the steps outlined in "Add sites that you trust to the Internet Explorer Trusted sites zone”.
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Set Internet and Local intranet security zone settings to “High” to prompt before running ActiveX Controls and Active Scripting in these zones.

You can help protect against this vulnerability by changing your settings for the Internet security zone to prompt before running ActiveX controls. You can do this by setting your browser security to High.

To raise the browsing security level in Microsoft Internet Explorer, follow these steps:

1.


On the Internet Explorer Tools menu, click Internet Options.

2.


In the Internet Options dialog box, click the Security tab, and then click the Internet icon.

3.


Under Security level for this zone, move the slider to High. This sets the security level for all Web sites you visit to High.

Note If no slider is visible, click Default Level, and then move the slider to High.

Note Setting the level to High may cause some Web sites to work incorrectly. If you have difficulty using a Web site after you change this setting, and you are sure the site is safe to use, you can add that site to your list of trusted sites. This will allow the site to work correctly even with the security setting set to High.

Note After you set Internet Explorer to require a prompt before it runs ActiveX controls and/or Active Scripting in the Internet zone and in the Local intranet zone, you can add sites that you trust to the Internet Explorer Trusted sites zone. This will allow you to continue to use trusted Web sites exactly as you do today, while helping to protect you from this attack on untrusted sites. We recommend that you add only sites that you trust to the Trusted sites zone.

To do this, follow these steps:

1.


In Internet Explorer, click Tools, click Internet Options, and then click the Security tab.

2.


In the Select a Web content zone to specify its current security settings box, click Trusted Sites, and then click Sites.

3.


If you want to add sites that do not require an encrypted channel, click to clear the Require server verification (https:) for all sites in this zone check box.

4.


In the Add this Web site to the zone box, type the URL of a site that you trust, and then click Add.

5.


Repeat these steps for each site that you want to add to the zone.

6.


Click OK two times to accept the changes and return to Internet Explorer.

Note Add any sites that you trust not to take malicious action on your computer. Two in particular that you may want to add are "*.windowsupdate.microsoft.com" and “*.update.microsoft.com” (without the quotation marks). These are the sites that will host the update, and it requires an ActiveX Control to install the update.

Impact of Workaround: There are side effects to prompting before running ActiveX Controls and Active Scripting. Many Web sites that are on the Internet or on an intranet use ActiveX or Active Scripting to provide additional functionality. For example, an online e-commerce site or banking site may use ActiveX Controls to provide menus, ordering forms, or even account statements. Prompting before running ActiveX Controls or Active Scripting is a global setting that affects all Internet and intranet sites. You will be prompted frequently when you enable this workaround. For each prompt, if you feel you trust the site that you are visiting, click Yes to run ActiveX Controls or Active Scripting. If you do not want to be prompted for all these sites, use the steps outlined in "Add sites that you trust to the Internet Explorer Trusted sites zone”.
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Resources:


You can provide feedback by completing the form by visiting the following Web site.


Customers in the United States and Canada can receive technical support from Microsoft Product Support Services. For more information about available support options, see the Microsoft Help and Support Web site.


International customers can receive support from their local Microsoft subsidiaries. For more information about how to contact Microsoft for international support issues, visit the International Support Web site.


The Microsoft TechNet Security Web site provides additional information about security in Microsoft products.

Disclaimer:

The information provided in this advisory is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Microsoft disclaims all warranties, either express or implied, including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. In no event shall Microsoft Corporation or its suppliers be liable for any damages whatsoever including direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, loss of business profits or special damages, even if Microsoft Corporation or its suppliers have been advised of the possibility of such damages. Some states do not allow the exclusion or limitation of liability for consequential or incidental damages so the foregoing limitation may not apply.

Revisions:


November 3, 2006: Advisory published.

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