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Microsoft Security Bulletin MS99-030 - Critical

Updated Patch Available for Office "ODBC Vulnerabilities"

Published: August 20, 1999 | Updated: October 08, 1999

Version: 1.2

Originally Posted: August 20, 1999
Revised: August 23, 1999
Re-released: October 08, 1999

Summary

Microsoft has released an updated patch that eliminates security vulnerabilities in the Microsoft® Jet database engine. A patch originally was released in August 1999, but an additional variant of one vulnerability, the "Text I-ISAM" vulnerability, was subsequently discovered. The new variant could allow a database query to delete files on a user's computer.

The vulnerabilities in total could affect any application that runs atop Jet, and could allow a database query to take virtually any action on a user's computer. Microsoft recommends that all customers who are running applications that use Jet, especially users of Microsoft Office 97 and Office 2000, install the patch. Customers who applied the original patch should apply the new one to ensure that they are fully protected against all variants. Customers who did not previously apply the patch need only apply the new version.

Additional information and frequently asked questions regarding this vulnerability can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/fq99-030.mspx

Issue

Jet is a database engine used by Microsoft products such as Microsoft Office97 and Office2000. Two vulnerabilities exist in Jet:

  • The "VBA Shell" vulnerability, which affects all versions of Jet except Jet 4.0. An operating system command embedded within a database query could be executed when the query is processed. This would allow a spreadsheet, database, or other application file that contained such a query to take virtually any action on the user's computer when the query was executed.
  • The "Text I-ISAM" vulnerability, which affects all versions of Jet. Jet provides a way to modify the contents of text files, as a way of allowing data exchange between it and other systems. However, a malicious user could use this capability to modify system files via a database query. The original patch for this vulnerability allowed "drop table" operations to be used, which could allow files on the user's computer to be deleted; the new patch eliminates this variant.

Microsoft Office uses the Jet engine, and Office users are particularly at risk from these vulnerabilities. (The "VBA Shell" vulnerability affects all versions of Office prior to Office2000, and also affects one member of the Office2000 suite, Access2000. The "Text I-ISAM" vulnerability affects all versions of Office). The vulnerabilities are an especially serious threat to Office users for three reasons:

  • Scenarios for exploiting these vulnerabilities via Office documents are publicly known.
  • The ubiquity of Office would make it an attractive target for mounting attacks via these vulnerabilities.
  • The ability of Office documents to perform Document Object Hosting would permit users to be attacked simply by visiting a malicious user's web site.

Microsoft Jet also is used by several other Microsoft products, as well as many third party applications. However, the ability to exploit this vulnerability through these products is highly dependent on the specific application. Although Microsoft has not identified a means of exploiting these vulnerabilities through any Microsoft products except Office, we recommend that all customers who have Microsoft Jet installed on their computer update it. This will ensure that they are protected against any possible attacks that may be developed.

Affected Software Versions

  • Microsoft Jet, all versions

    Note    Jet serves as the database engine for a number of Microsoft products, including but not limited to:

  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft Visual Studio
  • Microsoft Publisher
  • Microsoft Streets & Trips

Vulnerability Identifiers

Jet also serves as the database engine for many third-party software products. The patch does not require any change to any of the applications that use Jet; instead, it operates directly on the Jet database engine and restores proper functionality to it.

Patch Availability

Notes

  • The above web site provides separate pages for Office97 and Office2000. This is done in order to provide specific information about the vulnerabilities affecting the products. The patch for Office97 and Office2000 (and indeed for all affected products) is exactly the same, and both pages link to exactly the same patch. The patch will determine what version(s) of Jet are present on the machine and apply all of the needed corrections.
  • The patch is suitable for use by all language packs.
  • The patch applies to Jet 3.5 and all subsequent versions. Older versions of Jet are no longer supported, and we recommend that affected customers upgrade to a supported version.
  • The patch is suitable for widespread deployment via Microsoft® Systems Management Server®. Users who wish to manually apply patches for specific versions of Jet should consult the FAQ for information on how to do this.

More Information

Please see the following references for more information related to this issue. Please note that it may take 24 hours from the original posting of this bulletin for all of the KB articles to be visible on the Microsoft web site.

Obtaining Support on this Issue

This is a fully supported patch. Information on contacting Microsoft Technical Support is available at http://support.microsoft.com/contactussupport/?ws=support.

Acknowledgments

Microsoft acknowledges Juan Carlos Cuartango of Spain for bringing this issue to our attention and identifying the additional variant of the "Text I-ISAM" vulnerability.

Revisions

  • August 20, 1999: Bulletin Created.
  • August 23, 1999: Revised to provide updated patch location
  • October 08, 1999: Re-released to provide patch that corrects additional variants of the "Text I-ISAM" vulnerability

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