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Microsoft Security Bulletin MS14-067 - Critical

Vulnerability in XML Core Services Could Allow Remote Code Execution (2993958)

Published: November 11, 2014

Version: 1.0

This security update resolves a privately reported vulnerability in Microsoft Windows. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a logged-on user visits a specially crafted website that is designed to invoke Microsoft XML Core Services (MSXML) through Internet Explorer. In all cases, however, an attacker would have no way to force users to visit such websites. Instead, an attacker would have to convince users to visit a website, typically by getting them to click a link in an email message or in an Instant Messenger request that takes users to the attacker's website.

This security update for Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0 is rated Critical for affected releases of Microsoft Windows clients and Important for affected releases of Microsoft Windows servers. For more information, see the Affected Software section.

The security update addresses the vulnerability by modifying the way that Microsoft XML Core Services parses XML content. For more information about the vulnerability, see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) subsection for the specific vulnerability.

For more information about this document, see Knowledge Base Article 2993958.

 

The following software versions or editions are affected. Versions or editions that are not listed 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.

Operating System

Component

Maximum Security Impact

Aggregate Severity Rating

Updates Replaced

Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Important

2939576 in MS14-033

Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition Service Pack 2
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Important

2939576 in MS14-033

Windows Server 2003 with SP2 for Itanium-based Systems
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Important

2939576 in MS14-033

Windows Vista

Windows Vista Service Pack 2
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Critical

2916036 in MS14-005

Windows Vista x64 Edition Service Pack 2
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Critical

2916036 in MS14-005

Windows Server 2008

Windows Server 2008 for 32-bit Systems Service Pack 2
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Important

2916036 in MS14-005

Windows Server 2008 for x64-based Systems Service Pack 2
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Important

2916036 in MS14-005

Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based Systems Service Pack 2
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Important

2916036 in MS14-005

Windows 7

Windows 7 for 32-bit Systems Service Pack 1
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Critical

2916036 in MS14-005

Windows 7 for x64-based Systems Service Pack 1
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Critical

2916036 in MS14-005

Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows Server 2008 R2 for x64-based Systems Service Pack 1
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Important

2916036 in MS14-005

Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium-based Systems Service Pack 1
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Important

2916036 in MS14-005

Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

Windows 8 for 32-bit Systems
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Critical

2939576 in MS14-033

Windows 8 for x64-based Systems
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Critical

2939576 in MS14-033

Windows 8.1 for 32-bit Systems
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Critical

2939576 in MS14-033

Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Critical

2939576 in MS14-033

Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2

Windows Server 2012
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Important

2939576 in MS14-033

Windows Server 2012 R2
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Important

2939576 in MS14-033

Windows RT and Windows RT 8.1

Windows RT[1]
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Critical

2939576 in MS14-033

Windows RT 8.1[1]
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Critical

2939576 in MS14-033

Server Core installation option

Windows Server 2008 for 32-bit Systems Service Pack 2 (Server Core installation)
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Important

2916036 in MS14-005

Windows Server 2008 for x64-based Systems Service Pack 2 (Server Core installation)
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Important

2916036 in MS14-005

Windows Server 2008 R2 for x64-based Systems Service Pack 1 (Server Core installation)
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Important

2916036 in MS14-005

Windows Server 2012 (Server Core installation)
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Important

2939576 in MS14-033

Windows Server 2012 R2 (Server Core installation)
(2993958)

Microsoft XML Core Services 3.0

Remote Code Execution

Important

2939576 in MS14-033

[1]This update is available via Windows Update only.

Note Windows Technical Preview and Windows Server Technical Preview are affected. Customers running these operating systems are encouraged to apply the update, which is available via Windows Update. 

What version of Microsoft XML Core Services is installed on my system? 
Some versions of Microsoft XML Core Services are included with Microsoft Windows; others are installed with non-operating system software from Microsoft or third-party providers. Some are also available as separate downloads. The following table shows the supported releases of Microsoft Windows and indicates which versions of Microsoft XML Core Services are included with the operating system, and which versions are installed when you install additional Microsoft or third-party software.

Operating System

MSXML 3.0 and MSXML 6.0

MSXML 4.0 and MSXML 5.0

Windows Server 2003

MSXML 3.0 shipped with operating system. MSXML 6.0 installed with additional software.

Installed with additional software

Windows Vista

Shipped with operating system

Installed with additional software

Windows Server 2008

Shipped with operating system

Installed with additional software

Windows 7

Shipped with operating system

Installed with additional software

Windows Server 2008 R2

Shipped with operating system

Installed with additional software

Windows 8

Shipped with operating system

Installed with additional software

Windows Server 2012

Shipped with operating system

Installed with additional software

Windows RT

Shipped with operating system

MSXML 4.0 installed with additional software. MSXML 5.0 not applicable.

Windows 8.1

Shipped with operating system

Installed with additional software

Windows Server 2012 R2

Shipped with operating system

Installed with additional software

Windows RT 8.1

Shipped with operating system

MSXML 4.0 installed with additional software. MSXML 5.0 not applicable.

Note For information on which versions are supported by Microsoft, see Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 269238.

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 November bulletin summary.

Vulnerability Severity Rating and Maximum Security Impact by Affected Software

Affected Software

MSXML Remote Code Execution Vulnerability - CVE-2014-4118

Aggregate Severity Rating

Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2
(2993958)

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition Service Pack 2
(2993958)

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

Windows Server 2003 with SP2 for Itanium-based Systems
(2993958)

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

Windows Vista

Windows Vista Service Pack 2
(2993958)

Critical 
Remote Code Execution

Critical

Windows Vista x64 Edition Service Pack 2
(2993958)

Critical 
Remote Code Execution

Critical

Windows Server 2008

Windows Server 2008 for 32-bit Systems Service Pack 2
(2993958)

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

Windows Server 2008 for x64-based Systems Service Pack 2
(2993958)

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based Systems Service Pack 2
(2993958)

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

Windows 7

Windows 7 for 32-bit Systems Service Pack 1
(2993958)

Critical 
Remote Code Execution

Critical

Windows 7 for x64-based Systems Service Pack 1
(2993958)

Critical 
Remote Code Execution

Critical

Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows Server 2008 R2 for x64-based Systems Service Pack 1
(2993958)

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium-based Systems Service Pack 1
(2993958)

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

Windows 8 for 32-bit Systems
(2993958)

Critical 
Remote Code Execution

Critical

Windows 8 for x64-based Systems
(2993958)

Critical 
Remote Code Execution

Critical

Windows 8.1 for 32-bit Systems
(2993958)

Critical 
Remote Code Execution

Critical

Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems
(2993958)

Critical 
Remote Code Execution

Critical

Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2

Windows Server 2012
(2993958)

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

Windows Server 2012 R2
(2993958)

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

Windows RT and Windows RT 8.1

Windows RT
(2993958)

Critical 
Remote Code Execution

Critical

Windows RT 8.1
(2993958)

Critical 
Remote Code Execution

Critical

Server Core installation option

Windows Server 2008 for 32-bit Systems Service Pack 2 (Server Core installation)
(2993958)

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

Windows Server 2008 for x64-based Systems Service Pack 2 (Server Core installation)
(2993958)

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

Windows Server 2008 R2 for x64-based Systems Service Pack 1 (Server Core installation)
(2993958)

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

Windows Server 2012 (Server Core installation)
(2993958)

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

Windows Server 2012 R2 (Server Core installation)
(2993958)

Important 
Remote Code Execution

Important

 

A remote code execution vulnerability exists when Microsoft XML Core Services (MSXML) improperly parses XML content, which can corrupt the system state in such a way as to allow an attacker to run arbitrary code. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user opens a specially crafted file or webpage. Microsoft received information about this vulnerability through coordinated vulnerability disclosure. When this security bulletin was issued, Microsoft had not received any information to indicate that this vulnerability had been publicly used to attack customers. The update addresses the vulnerability by modifying the way that Microsoft XML Core Services parses XML content.

Mitigating Factors

The following mitigating factors may be helpful in your situation:

  • In a web-based attack scenario, an attacker could host a specially crafted website that is designed to exploit MSXML through Internet Explorer, and then convince a user to view the website. This could also include compromised websites and websites that accept or host user-provided content or advertisements. These websites 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 the 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 in an Instant Messenger request that takes users to the attacker's website, or by getting them to open an attachment sent through email.
  • 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.
  • By default, all supported versions of Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Outlook Express, and Windows Mail open HTML email messages in the Restricted sites zone. The Restricted sites zone, which disables script and ActiveX controls, helps reduce the risk of an attacker being able to use this vulnerability to execute malicious code. If a user clicks a link in an email message, the user could still be vulnerable to exploitation of this vulnerability through the web-based attack scenario.
  • By default, Internet Explorer on Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2 runs in a restricted mode that is known as Enhanced Security Configuration. This mode mitigates this vulnerability. See the FAQ section for this vulnerability for more information about Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration.

Workarounds

Microsoft has tested the following workarounds and states in the discussion whether a workaround reduces functionality:

  • Prevent MSXML 3.0 binary behaviors from being used in Internet Explorer

    You can disable attempts to use a specific binary behavior in Internet Explorer by setting the kill bit for the behavior 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.

    To set the kill bits for CLSIDs with value of {f5078f39-c551-11d3-89b9-0000f81fe221} and {f6d90f16-9c73-11d3-b32e-00c04f990bb4}, 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\{f5078f39-c551-11d3-89b9-0000f81fe221}]
    "Compatibility Flags"=dword:04000400
    
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\ActiveX Compatibility\{f5078f39-c551-11d3-89b9-0000f81fe221}]
    "Compatibility Flags"=dword:04000400
    
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\ActiveX Compatibility\{f6d90f16-9c73-11d3-b32e-00c04f990bb4}]
    "Compatibility Flags"=dword:04000400
    
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\ActiveX Compatibility\{f6d90f16-9c73-11d3-b32e-00c04f990bb4}]
    "Compatibility Flags"=dword:04000400
    

    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, see the TechNet article, Group Policy Collection.

    Dn864413.note(en-us,Security.10).gifNote:
    You must restart Internet Explorer for your changes to take effect.

    Impact of workaround. Websites that use the XMLHTTP 3.0 ActiveX controls may no longer display or function correctly in Internet Explorer.

    How to undo the workaround. Delete the registry keys previously added in implementing this workaround.

 

FAQ

What is the component affected by the vulnerability? 
The vulnerability affects Microsoft XML Core Services (MSXML), which allows customers who use JScript, Visual Basic Scripting Edition (VBScript), and Microsoft Visual Studio 6.0 to develop XML-based applications that provide interoperability with other applications that adhere to the XML 1.0 standard. For more information, see the Microsoft Developer Network article, MSXML.

What might an attacker use the vulnerability to do? 
An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the logged-on user. If a user is logged on with administrative user rights, an attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights. 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.

How could an attacker exploit the vulnerability? 
An attacker could exploit the vulnerability by hosting a specially crafted website that is designed to invoke MSXML through Internet Explorer. This can also include compromised websites and websites that accept or host user-provided content or advertisements. These websites 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 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 in an Instant Messenger request that takes users to the attacker's website. 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.

Non-Microsoft web applications and services that utilize the MSXML library for parsing XML could also be vulnerable to this attack.

What systems are primarily at risk from the vulnerability? 
This vulnerability requires that a user be logged on and visiting a website for any malicious action to occur. Therefore, any systems where Internet Explorer is used frequently, such as workstations or terminal servers, are at the most risk from this vulnerability.

I am running Internet Explorer on Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, or Windows Server 2012 R2. Does this mitigate this vulnerability? 
Yes. By default, Internet Explorer on Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2 runs in a restricted mode that is known as Enhanced Security Configuration. Enhanced Security Configuration is a group of preconfigured settings in Internet Explorer that can reduce the likelihood of a user or administrator downloading and running specially crafted web content on a server. This is a mitigating factor for websites that you have not added to the Internet Explorer Trusted sites zone.

For Security Update Deployment information, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base article referenced here in the Executive Summary.

Microsoft recognizes the efforts of those in the security community who help us protect customers through coordinated vulnerability disclosure. See Acknowledgments for more information.

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.

  • V1.0 (November 11, 2014): Bulletin published.

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