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Microsoft Security Bulletin MS14-020 - Important

Vulnerability in Microsoft Publisher Could Allow Remote Code Execution - Important (2950145)

Published: April 8, 2014

Version: 1.0

General Information

Executive Summary

This security update resolves a privately reported vulnerability in Microsoft Office. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user opens a specially crafted file in an affected version of Microsoft Publisher. An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user. Customers whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than those who operate with administrative user rights.

This security update is rated Important for supported editions of Microsoft Publisher 2003 and Microsoft Publisher 2007. For more information, see the subsection, Affected and Non-Affected Software, in this section.

The security update addresses the vulnerability by correcting how Microsoft Publisher converts specially crafted Publisher (.pub) files. For more information about the vulnerabilities, see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) subsection for the specific vulnerability entry under the next section, Vulnerability Information.

Recommendation. Customers can configure automatic updating to check online for updates from Microsoft Update by using the Microsoft Update service. Customers who have automatic updating enabled and configured to check online for updates from Microsoft Update typically will not need to take any action because this security update will be downloaded and installed automatically. Customers who have not enabled automatic updating need to check for updates from Microsoft Update and install this update manually. For information about specific configuration options in automatic updating, see Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 294871.

For administrators and enterprise installations, or end users who want to install this security update manually, Microsoft recommends that customers apply the update at the earliest opportunity using update management software, or by checking for updates using the Microsoft Update service.

See also the section, Detection and Deployment Tools and Guidance, later in this bulletin.

Knowledge Base Article

  • Knowledge Base Article: 2950145
  • File Information: Yes
  • SHA1/SHA2 hashes: Yes
  • Known issues: None

 

The following software has been tested to determine which versions or editions are affected. Other versions or editions are either past their support life cycle or are not affected. To determine the support life cycle for your software version or edition, see Microsoft Support Lifecycle.

Affected Software

Software

Component

Maximum Security Impact

Aggregate Severity Rating

Updates Replaced

Microsoft Office Suites and Components

Microsoft Office 2003 Service Pack 3

Microsoft Publisher 2003 Service Pack 3
(2878299)

Remote Code Execution

Important

2810047 in MS13-042

Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 3

Microsoft Publisher 2007 Service Pack 3
(2817565)

Remote Code Execution

Important

2597971 in MS13-042

 

Non-Affected Software 

Software

Microsoft Publisher 2010 Service Pack 1 (32-bit editions)

Microsoft Publisher 2010 Service Pack 2 (32-bit editions)

Microsoft Publisher 2010 Service Pack 1 (64-bit editions)

Microsoft Publisher 2010 Service Pack 2 (64-bit editions)

Microsoft Publisher 2013 (32-bit editions)

Microsoft Publisher 2013 Service Pack 1 (32-bit editions)

Microsoft Publisher 2013 (64-bit editions)

Microsoft Publisher 2013 Service Pack 1 (64-bit editions)

 

Non-Applicable Software 

Software

Microsoft Office 2013 RT

Microsoft Office 2013 RT Service Pack 1

Microsoft Office for Mac 2011

I am being offered this update for software I do not have installed on my system. Why am I being offered this update? 
Due to the servicing model for Microsoft Office updates, you may be offered updates for software that you do not have installed on your system. For example, you may be offered an update for a Microsoft Office product even though you do not have the specific Office product installed. For more information on this behavior and recommended actions, see Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 830335.

How are Microsoft Office standalone programs affected by the vulnerability? 
A Microsoft Office standalone program is affected with the same severity rating as the corresponding component in a Microsoft Office Suite. For example, a standalone installation of Microsoft Publisher is affected with the same severity rating as an installation of Microsoft Publisher that was delivered with a Microsoft Office Suite.

I am using an older release of the software discussed in this security bulletin. What should I do? 
The affected software listed in this bulletin has been tested to determine which releases are affected. Other releases are past their support life cycle. For more information about the product lifecycle, see the Microsoft Support Lifecycle website.

It should be a priority for customers who have older releases of the software to migrate to supported releases to prevent potential exposure to vulnerabilities. To determine the support lifecycle for your software release, see Select a Product for Lifecycle Information. For more information about service packs for these software releases, see Service Pack Lifecycle Support Policy.

Customers who require custom support for older software must contact their Microsoft account team representative, their Technical Account Manager, or the appropriate Microsoft partner representative for custom support options. Customers without an Alliance, Premier, or Authorized Contract can contact their local Microsoft sales office. For contact information, see the Microsoft Worldwide Information website, select the country in the Contact Information list, and then click Go to see a list of telephone numbers. When you call, ask to speak with the local Premier Support sales manager. For more information, see the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy FAQ.

The following severity ratings assume the potential maximum impact of the vulnerability. For information regarding the likelihood, within 30 days of this security bulletin's release, of the exploitability of the vulnerability in relation to its severity rating and security impact, please see the Exploitability Index in the April bulletin summary. For more information, see Microsoft Exploitability Index.

Vulnerability Severity Rating and Maximum Security Impact by Affected Software

Affected Software

Arbitrary Pointer Dereference Vulnerability - CVE-2014-1759

Aggregate Severity Rating

Microsoft Publisher 2003 Service Pack 3

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

Microsoft Publisher 2007 Service Pack 3

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

A remote code execution vulnerability exists in the way that affected versions of Microsoft Publisher parses specially crafted files. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could run arbitrary code as the current user. If the current user is logged on with administrative user rights, an attacker could take complete control of the affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.

To view this vulnerability as a standard entry in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures list, see CVE-2014-1759.

Mitigating Factors

Mitigation refers to a setting, common configuration, or general best-practice, existing in a default state, that could reduce the severity of exploitation of a vulnerability. The following mitigating factors may be helpful in your situation:

  • The vulnerability cannot be exploited automatically through email. For an attack to be successful a user must open an attachment that is sent in an email message.
  • In a web-based attack scenario, an attacker could host a website that contains a specially crafted Office file that is used to attempt to exploit this vulnerability. In addition, compromised websites and websites that accept or host user-provided content or advertisements could contain specially crafted content that could exploit this vulnerability. In all cases, however, an attacker would have no way to force users to view attacker controlled content. Instead, an attacker would have to convince users to take action, typically by getting them to click a link in an email message or Instant Messenger message that takes users to the attacker's website, and then convince them to open the specially crafted Office file.
  • An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user. Customers whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than those who operate with administrative user rights.

Workarounds

Workaround refers to a setting or configuration change that does not correct the underlying vulnerability but would help block known attack vectors before you apply the update. Microsoft has tested the following workarounds and states in the discussion whether a workaround reduces functionality:

  • Do not open Publisher files that you receive from untrusted sources or that you receive unexpectedly from trusted sources

    Do not open Publisher files that you receive from untrusted sources or that you receive unexpectedly from trusted sources. This vulnerability could be exploited when a user opens a specially crafted file.

FAQ

What is the scope of the vulnerability? 
This is a remote code execution vulnerability.

What causes the vulnerability? 
The vulnerability is caused when the Microsoft Publisher converter does not properly handle objects in memory while parsing specially crafted Publisher (.pub) files. System memory may be corrupted in such a way that an attacker could execute arbitrary code.

What is the Publisher converter (pubconv.dll)? 
The Publisher converter is used by Microsoft Publisher to open Publisher files created in versions earlier than Microsoft Publisher 2007.

What might an attacker use the vulnerability to do? 
An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could run arbitrary code as the current user. If the current user is logged on with administrative user rights, an attacker could take complete control of the affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.

How could an attacker exploit the vulnerability? 
An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by convincing a user to open a specially crafted Publisher (.pub) file with an affected version of Microsoft Publisher. The vulnerability could be exploited when the specially crafted Publisher file is parsed by the Publisher converter (pubconv.dll).

In an email attack scenario, an attacker could exploit the vulnerability by sending a specially crafted Publisher file as an attachment of an email message, and by convincing the user to open the file.

In a web-based attack scenario, an attacker could host a website that contains a specially crafted Publisher file that is used to exploit this vulnerability. However, an attacker would have no way to force users to visit these websites. Instead, an attacker would have to convince users to visit the website, typically by getting them to click a link in an email message or Instant Messenger message that takes users to the attacker's website, and then convince them to open the specially crafted Publisher file.

What systems are primarily at risk from the vulnerability? 
Systems where Microsoft Publisher is used, including workstations and terminal servers, are primarily at risk. Servers could be at more risk if administrators allow users to log on to servers and to run programs. However, best practices strongly discourage allowing this.

What does the update do? 
This update addresses the vulnerability by correcting how Microsoft Publisher converts specially crafted Publisher (.pub) files.

When this security bulletin was issued, had this vulnerability been publicly disclosed? 
No. Microsoft received information about this vulnerability through coordinated vulnerability disclosure.

When this security bulletin was issued, had Microsoft received any reports that this vulnerability was being exploited? 
No. Microsoft had not received any information to indicate that this vulnerability had been publicly used to attack customers when this security bulletin was originally issued.

Several resources are available to help administrators deploy security updates. 

  • Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) lets administrators scan local and remote systems for missing security updates and common security misconfigurations. 
  • Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Systems Management Server (SMS), and System Center Configuration Manager help administrators distribute security updates. 
  • The Update Compatibility Evaluator components included with Application Compatibility Toolkit aid in streamlining the testing and validation of Windows updates against installed applications. 

For more information about these tools and guidance in deploying security updates across networks, see Security Tools for IT Pros.

Publisher 2003 (all editions)

Reference Table

The following table contains the security update information for this software.

Security update file name

For Microsoft Publisher 2003 Service Pack 3:
office2003-kb2878299-fullfile-enu.exe

Installation switches

See Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 197147

Restart requirement

In some cases, this update does not require a restart. If the required files are being used, this update will require a restart. If this behavior occurs, a message appears that advises you to restart.

To help reduce the chance that a restart will be required, stop all affected services and close all applications that may use the affected files prior to installing the security update. For more information about the reasons why you may be prompted to restart, see Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 887012.

Removal information

Use Add or Remove Programs item in Control Panel.

Note When you remove this update, you may be prompted to insert the Microsoft Office 2003 CD in the CD drive. Additionally, you may not have the option to uninstall the update from the Add or Remove Programs item in Control Panel. There are several possible causes for this issue. For more information about the removal, see Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 903771.

File information

See Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 2878299

Registry key verification

Not applicable

 

Publisher 2007 (all editions)

Reference Table

The following table contains the security update information for this software.

Security update file name

For Microsoft Publisher 2007:
publisher2007-kb2817565-fullfile-x86-glb.exe

Installation switches

See Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 912203

Restart requirement

In some cases, this update does not require a restart. If the required files are being used, this update will require a restart. If this behavior occurs, a message appears that advises you to restart.

To help reduce the chance that a restart will be required, stop all affected services and close all applications that may use the affected files prior to installing the security update. For more information about the reasons why you may be prompted to restart, see Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 887012.

Removal information

Use Add or Remove Programs item in Control Panel.

File information

See Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 2817565

Registry key verification

Not applicable

Microsoft thanks the following for working with us to help protect customers:

  • An anonymous researcher, working with VeriSign iDefense Labs, for reporting the Arbitrary Pointer Dereference Vulnerability (CVE-2014-1759)

Microsoft Active Protections Program (MAPP)

To improve security protections for customers, Microsoft provides vulnerability information to major security software providers in advance of each monthly security update release. Security software providers can then use this vulnerability information to provide updated protections to customers via their security software or devices, such as antivirus, network-based intrusion detection systems, or host-based intrusion prevention systems. To determine whether active protections are available from security software providers, please go to the active protections websites provided by program partners, listed in Microsoft Active Protections Program (MAPP) Partners.

Support

How to obtain help and support for this security update

Disclaimer

The information provided in the Microsoft Knowledge Base 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

  • V1.0 (April 8, 2014): Bulletin published.

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